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Exposure to an Environmental Toxin, Quality of Life and Psychological Distress
Environmental Psychology
  • Azara Santiago-Rivera, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Gayle S. Morse, Utah State University
  • Richard Haase, University at Albany
  • Robert McCaffrey, University at Albany
  • Alice Tarbell, Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment
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This study examined the effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a toxic substance considered carcinogenic in nature, on the socio-psychological well-being of a Native American community located in upstate New York. A sample of 353 men and women completed a demographics questionnaire and measures assessing quality of life, psychological distress and depression. Blood samples were obtained for chemical analyses of PCBs and thyroid hormone levels. Urine samples were obtained to conduct the analysis of homovanillic acid (HVA), a proxy for dopamine function. The results of the study revealed that PCB exposure, as measured by body burden levels, was not significantly related to distress and depression. Likewise, PCB exposure was not significantly related to job, family and personal aspects of quality of life. However, the study revealed that lower quality of life in each of these domains was significantly related to higher levels of psychological distress in this sample.

Citation Information
Santiago-Rivera, A., Morse, G., Haase, R., & McCaffrey, R. (2007). Exposure to an Environmental Toxin, Quality of Life, and Psychological Distress. Environmental Psychology, 7, 33-43.