Chronic environmental contamination: A systematic review of psychological health consequences

Harrison J. Schmitt, Eric E. Calloway, Daniel Sullivan, Whitney H. Clausen, Pamela G. Tucker, Jamie Rayman, Ben Gerhardstein

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

We sought to undertake a systematic review to assess the current research and to provide a platform for future research on the psychological health impact of chronic environmental contamination (CEC). CEC is the experience of living in an area where hazardous substances are known or perceived to be present in air, water, or soil at elevated levels for a prolonged and unknown period of time. We employed a systematic review approach to assess the psychological health impact of CEC in literature from 1995 to 2019, and conducted a meta-analysis of available findings (k = 60, N = 25,858) on the impact of CEC on anxiety, general stress, depression, and PTSD. We also present a narrative synthesis of findings that suggest risk factors for the experience of psychological health impacts in the wake of CEC. Likely factors increasing risk for elevated psychological health impact from CEC experience are institutional delegitimization of community concerns and the real or perceived presence of health effects from CEC. The meta-analyses observed small-to-medium effects of experiencing CEC on anxiety, general stress, depression, and PTSD. However, there was also evident risk of bias in the data. Our review suggests that psychological health in the context of CEC is an important potential public health burden and a key area for future improved research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number145025
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume772
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 10 2021

Keywords

  • Chronic environmental contamination
  • Mental health
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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