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Can poor air quality cause crime and suicide?

A lot of research has shown that poor air quality and higher levels of air pollution can make you physically sick. But there’s an increasing amount of evidence pointing to another conclusion: Poor air quality may affect our behavior, including criminal activity and suicide.

The research

Several studies have looked at the correlation between crime and air pollution levels. UK researchers recently studied 1.8 million crimes over two years and compared that to pollution data in London.

An earlier study examined air pollution and crime levels over a nine-year period in 9,360 US cities. Yet another compared environmental data with crime records from Los Angeles between 2005 and 2013, to analyze the impact of short-term changes in ozone levels on the aggregate daily number of criminal assaults.

As for suicide, researchers in Utah, a part of the country associated with a greater-than-usual number of self-inflicted deaths, studied 1,546 suicides in Salt Lake County between 2000 and 2010 and compared that data to fine and coarse particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide from Environmental Protection Agency monitors.

The results

The studies focused on crime all discovered a connection between higher levels of air pollution and crime. The UK researchers found that a 10 point increase in the air quality index correlated with a nine percent boost in the rate of petty crimes such as shoplifting and pickpocketing. Both wealthy and less-affluent areas were affected.

In Los Angeles, higher levels of particulate matter in the air were connected to increased teenage delinquency in urban areas—specifically, a 17 percent increase in assaults for a 10 parts per billion increase in daily fine particulate pollution. And the Utah researchers? They found that the suicide risk increased two to three days after levels of fine particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide rose.

The reasons

Researchers point to the connection between polluted air and higher levels of stress and anxiety that, in turn, can lead to increases in criminal behavior. Specifically, poor air quality can boost the stress hormone cortisol, impacting risk perception and causing a rise in criminal activity.

Further, physical inflammation caused by increases in particulate matter can cause the immune system to overreact and release compounds such as quinolinic acid, which has been linked to suicidal thoughts.

Taking action

One way to improve your home air quality is with a smart air purifier with a HEPA filter, like the Coway Airmega. It can help eliminate particulate matter and other pollutants in the air, keeping you healthier and the air in your home safer.


1Coway air purifiers has been proven to trap dust, pollen, dander, viruses and bacteria in the air based on KCL (Korea Conformity Laboratories) testing.They have been tested in a 30㎥ size chamber according to the Korea Air Cleaning Association standard (SPS-KACA 002-132:2022 Modified) to measure the 0.01㎛ size of particle removal rate. It was tested on maximum airflow speed in normal room temperature and humidity conditions. The performance may vary in the actual living environment of customers.
→ Tested with Airmega Aim, 150, 160, AP-1216L, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 200M, Icon, IconS, 230, 240, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S, ProX

299.97% of viruses, bacteria, fungi and pollen were verified to be removed from the air for Coway air purifiers which have Green True HEPA™ filter applied based on the Japan Food Research Laboratories(JFRL) testing according to JEM 1467 standard.
→ Tested with Coway Airmega AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 250, 250 Art, 250S, 300, 300S, 400, 400S
→ All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.

All tested by JFRL and received above result within below time.

- Virus: Tested with Escherichia coli phage ΦX174 NBRC 103405, 60 minutes
- Bacteria: Tested with Staphylococcus epidermidis NBRC 12993, 60 minutes
- Fungi/Mold: Tested with Penicillium citrinum NBRC 6352, 60 minutes
- Pollen: Tested with Cedar Pollen extract, 60 minutes

3Aerosol test conducted in a Biosafety level 3 laboratory with two Coway air purifier models, Coway Airmega 250 and 400 for removal of SARS-CoV-2 Aerosol by US based MRI Global, a not-for-profit laboratory and partner of US Department of Defense. The test was conducted in a 13.1ft3 chamber. Virus was aerosolized for 15 minutes and the product was turned on high for 2 minutes. Result showed each product effectively removed over 99.98% of the SARS-CoV-2 in 2 minutes. This is a result from a laboratory experiment condition and result may vary in different conditions. This result does not imply it kills SARS-CoV-2 or prevents the transmission of Covid-19. Coway Airmega 250S and 400S are identical to the tested models and has equal performance with an additional mobile connectivity function.

4The concentration of ammonia, acetaldehyde and acetic acid were proven to be removed within 30 minutes by FCG Research Institute, Inc. Human Life Science Lab. It is not a demonstration result in the actual use space. Not all odors and gases may be supported. → Tested with Coway Airmega 150, 160, AP-1512HH, AP-1512HHS, 400, 400S

5The coverage area of the air purifier is based on an area where the air cleaner can make two air changes per hour (ACPH). An air change per hour translates to how many times an air purifier can clean an area, assuming the height of a ceiling to be 8 ft, in one hour. Therefore ** means two air changes per hour means that the cleaner can clean the area once every 30 minutes and * means air changes per hour means that the air purifier can clean the area once every 60 minutes.

10Terms and conditions apply. Discounts, including promotions, coupons, bundle discount and subscription discount, cannot be stacked on top of other coupons. During promotional periods, discount codes will not be able to be applied to orders. Promo codes may apply to products only—filters, accessories, and new products within 3 months of the release date are not included.