Outdoor light at night (LAN) is an increasingly prevalent type of environmental pollution. Studies have demonstrated that outdoor LAN can disrupt circadian rhythms, potentially contributing to insomnia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic changes in humans. We investigated the association of outdoor LAN with depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviors in South Korean adults.
This study used data from the 2009 Korean Community Health Survey, a representative sample dataset. Study population consisted of 113,119 participants for the assessment of depressive symptoms and 152,159 participants for the assessment of suicidal behavior. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Korean version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (depressive symptoms, score of > 16). Suicidal behaviors were defined as the experience of suicidal ideation or attempt. Outdoor LAN was estimated by satellite data from the National Centers for Environmental Information.
Participants with depressive symptoms or history of suicidal behaviors were more likely to have exposure to outdoor LAN than those without depressive symptoms or suicidal behaviors. Compared with adults living in areas exposed to the lowest outdoor LAN, those living in areas exposed to the highest levels had higher likelihood depressive symptoms (OR = 1.29; 95% CI: 1.15â€“1.46) or suicidal behaviors (OR = 1.27; 95% CI: 1.16â€“1.39). Significant dose-response relationships were observed between outdoor LAN and the odds of depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviors.
Outdoor LAN was found to be significantly associated with depressive symptoms and suicidal behaviors, suggesting that it may be an environmental contributor to mental health problems.