Public Release: 

PCE in drinking water linked to an increased risk of mental illness

BioMed Central

PCE in drinking water linked to an increased risk of mental illness

The solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) widely used in industry and to dry clean clothes is a neurotoxin known to cause mood changes, anxiety, and depression in people who work with it. To date the long-term effect of this chemical on children exposed to PCE has been less clear, although there is some evidence that children of people who work in the dry cleaning industry have an increased risk of schizophrenia. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health found that exposure to PCE as a child was associated with an increased risk of bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

From 1968, until the early 1980s, water companies in Massachusetts installed vinyl-lined (VL/AC) water pipes that were subsequently found to be leaching PCE into the drinking water supply. Researchers from Boston University followed the incidence of mental illness amongst adults from Cape Cod, born between 1969 and 1983, who were consequently exposed to PCE both before birth and during early childhood.

While there was no increase seen in the incidence of depression, regardless of PCE exposure, people with prenatal and early childhood exposure to PCE had almost twice the risk of bipolar disorder, compared to an unexposed group, and their risk of PTSD was raised by 50%.

Dr Ann Aschengrau from Boston University School of Public Health warned, "It is impossible to calculate the exact amount of PCE these people were exposed to - levels of PCE were recorded as high as 1,550 times the currently recommended safe limit. While the water companies flushed the pipes to address this problem, people are still being exposed to PCE in the dry cleaning and textile industries, and from consumer products, and so the potential for an increased risk of illness remains real."

###

Media Contact
Dr Hilary Glover
Scientific Press Officer, BioMed Central
Tel: 44-20-3192-2370
Mob: 44-778-698-1967
Email: hilary.glover@biomedcentral.com

Notes to Editors

1. Occurrence of mental illness following prenatal and early childhood exposure to tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-contaminated drinking water: a retrospective cohort study. Ann Aschengrau, Janice M Weinberg, Patricia A Janulewicz, Megan E Romano, Lisa G Gallagher, Michael R Winter, Brett R Martin, Veronica M Vieira, Thomas F Webster, Roberta F White and David M Ozonoff Environmental Health (in press)

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Environmental Health is an open access, peer-reviewed journal devoted exclusively to Environmental Health, and thus serves the important objective of making reliable and important scientific information widely and easily available, without charge, to readers worldwide.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.