Friday, January 27, 2012

Mental Illness: All in the Water?

People on Cape Cod who were exposed during gestation and early childhood to a chemical used to line water pipes had an increased risk of bipolar disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a study by Boston University School of Public Health researchers appearing in Environmental Health. Rates of these disorders increased in those with higher exposure levels, said Ann Aschengrau, Sc.D., a professor of epidemiology, and colleagues.

The solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) was used to line water pipes from the 1960s to the 1980s and leached into drinking water. PCE is a neurotoxin that can cause mood changes, anxiety, and depressive disorders in people in the dry-cleaning and textile industries, where it is used today. An earlier study by the same researchers found that people exposed to PCE before birth and during early childhood had 1.5-fold increase in the risk of using illegal drugs as adolescents or adults.

To read more about the effects of environmental chemicals on neurodevelopment in Psychiatric News, click here.
(Image: ifong/


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