Association of outdoor air and noise pollution with unprovoked seizures and new onset epilepsy: A systematic review and meta‐analysis


Research has indicated that certain environmental exposures may increase the risk of unprovoked seizures and new onset epilepsy. This study aimed to synthesize the literature that has estimated the associations between short- and long-term exposure to outdoor air and noise pollution and the risk of unprovoked seizures and new onset epilepsy. We searched Embase, MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, BIOSIS Previews, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature, Proquest Dissertations and Theses, conference abstracts, and the gray literature and conducted citation tracing in June 2023. Observational and ecological studies assessing the associations of air and noise pollution with unprovoked seizures or new onset epilepsy were eligible. One reviewer extracted summary data. Using fixed and random effects models, we calculated the pooled risk ratios (RRs) for the studies assessing the associations between short-term exposure to air pollution and unprovoked seizures. Seventeen studies were included, 16 assessing the association of air pollution with seizures and one with epilepsy. Eight studies were pooled quantitatively. Ozone (O3; RR = .99, 95% confidence interval [CI] = .99–.99) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) exposure adjusted for particulate matter (RR = 1.02, 95% CI = 1.01–1.02) on the same day, and carbon monoxide (CO) exposure 2 days prior (RR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.02–1.22), were associated with seizure risk. A single study of air pollution and epilepsy did not report a significant association. The risk of bias and heterogeneity across studies was moderate or high. Short-term exposure to O3, NO2, and CO may affect the risk of seizures; however, the effect estimates for O3 and NO2 were minimal. Additional research should continue to explore these and the associations between outdoor air pollution and epilepsy and between noise pollution and seizures and epilepsy.