Study: Air pollution may be causing more people to commit petty crimes

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Image: Study: Air pollution may be causing more people to commit petty crimes

(Natural News) Air pollution is known for negatively impacting the lives of many. It causes several health problems such as increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and respiratory issues. More than that, it’s really bad for the environment. But recently, another adverse effect of air pollution was added to the list.

In a study published at the IZA Institute of Labor Economicsresearchers from the London School of Economics (LSE) found that air pollution also triggers higher crime rates in London. By looking into 1.8 million crimes in over two years, and comparing them to pollution data, they discovered that air pollution levels directly affect the number of reported crimes.

Fortunately, these only were seen in petty crimes such as shoplifting, pickpocketing, and robbery. More serious offenses such as rape and murder were not found to be related to the said matter. In addition, researchers noted that if the rate of less serious crimes drops, the police have more free time and resources to go after criminals who commit heinous offenses.

According to the results, once air pollution measured rise by 10 points, crime rate also increases by 0.9 percent. This means the crime rate in London is 8.4 higher on days when air quality is at its worst. (Related: Cities can reduce air pollution by adding more trees and bushes along roadways.)

Furthermore, the team of researchers used a natural experiment in which they followed where the bad air traveled to. Wherever the pollution is, crime rate automatically increased as well, regardless if it’s within a rich or a poor neighborhood.


Professor Julia Lee, a co-author of the study, revealed: “Air pollution not only corrupts people’s health but also can contaminate their morality.” The study’s authors also added that the study was linked to previous studies that have shown how the more polluted the air is, the more stress hormones, called cortisol, are released by the bodies.

This only goes to show that air pollution has a significant effect on the way people think, make decisions, and ultimately see future punishments.

Different study with the same results

Meanwhile, a different team of researchers from the University of Michigan also conducted a research on the said issue. Part of their conclusion indicated that anxiety was also a negative effect of air pollution.

To be able to connect pollution to crime, the authors prepared a series of experiments wherein photos of both polluted and clear skies were shown to the participants. It appeared that those who looked at the polluted images showed more signs of anxiety, and were more likely to cheat on subsequent tasks.

“When individuals experience a polluted environment, their overall concern for moral appropriateness may diminish, which may make them more prone to unethical and unlawful acts,” one of the authors shared.

Simple ways to stop air pollution

The researchers admitted that further study is needed to find more concrete links between air pollution and crime; however, they did not forget to put an emphasis on the fact that air pollution is something that can be controlled. Therefore, ensuring that the air is of good quality equals to lower crime rate.

Here are some simple ways to help stop air pollution:

  • Reduce the air pollution of your automobile
  • Save energy
  • Use eco-friendly products
  • Don’t smoke too much
  • Plant trees
  • Take care of your fireplace
  • Recycle your trash and utilized recycled items
  • Choose sustainable products
  • Support local groups advocating for cleaner air

Become more aware of such issues by reading more at today.

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