Will this be given the same level coverage in the media as the supposed link between cannabis and psychosis? Will it be met with the same level of outage and scaremongering? Certainly not. The world is upside down.
The study found that teenagers are more likely to have a psychotic experience in the UK’s most highly polluted areas.
For now, causation has not been proved, says Helen Fisher of King’s College London, one of the study’s authors. Just as is the case with cannabis and psychosis. But one is illegal and the other isn’t, even though pollution causes millions of deaths every year and cannabis has medical properties that save lives – including lives that are damaged and imperilled by pollution.
The study found that 30% of a group of 2000 18-year-olds reported having at least one psychotic experience in their teens. Other research on young adults has reported similar figures.
However, when the teenagers’ addresses were mapped against air pollution, those in areas with higher pollution were more likely to have reported a psychotic experience.
In areas with the highest levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – pollutants produced by diesel cars – 12 teens reported psychotic experiences for every 20 teens who didn’t, with the number falling to seven for every 20 in cleaner areas.
Air pollution has been linked with inflammation and degeneration in the frontal cortex and the part of the brain that gives us our sense of smell, the olfactory bulb, while inflammation of the brain has been linked to psychosis.
“There is no evidence that pollution necessarily causes psychosis, or whether this is one of many factors or acting in isolation,” says Sophie Dix at mental health charity MQ. But the study provides a starting point for a possible link between pollution and psychosis, she says.
There is an emerging body of research looking at possible links between air pollution and mental health. For example, an association has been found between polluted areas and Swedish children being given medication for psychiatric disorders.
Not only is cannabis a medicine, it is a plant that can be turned into almost anything, including biofuel that is 90% cleaner and 90% less carcinogenic than fossil fuels. There is absolutely no reason for pollution other than profiteering by fossil fuel companies. The world has got to be turned the right way up: legalisation of cannabis and prohibition of pollution.