Volume 17, Issue 8 e3000370 (2019)
A causal association of air pollution with mental diseases is an intriguing possibility raised in a Short Report just published in PLOS Biology. Despite analyses involving large data sets, the available evidence has substantial shortcomings, and a long series of potential biases may invalidate the observed associations. Only bipolar disorder shows consistent results, with similar effects across United States and Denmark data sets, but the effect has modest magnitude, appropriate temporality is not fully secured, and biological gradient, plausibility, coherence, and analogy offer weak support. The signal seems to persist in some robustness analyses, but more analyses by multiple investigators, including contrarians, are necessary. Broader public sharing of data sets would also enhance transparency.
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