Aftermath of a chemical spill: psychological and physiological sequelae


Psychological, and psychophysiological sequelae were studied in a community which had experienced a railroad chemical spill of 19,000 gallons of the toxic pesticide metam sodium. Information was collected on 350 persons living in the area of the spill (spill residents) and 114 nonexposed controls, recruited using a randomized sampling strategy, from a nearby similar, but unexposed control town. Psychological measures used were the MMPI-2, POMS, IES Scale, Environmental Worry, Perceived Social Support and Perceived Control Scale. Physiological measurements were two measurements of blood pressure, pulse, and salivary cortisol level, taken both at the beginning and the conclusion of the study. Demographic and medical information was asked in a Questionnaire. Results indicate greater levels of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms in the spill residents in addition to greater environmental worry and lower perceived social support. Spill odor perception was related to increased psychological and physiological sequelae. The spill residents had higher blood pressure and less fluctuation of cortisol levels than the controls. Comparison of spill residents who were litigants and those who were not, indicates no differences for blood pressure, pulse, and cortisol, MMPI-2, Environmental Worry and the Control Scale. Litigants scored slightly higher on the IES, Intrusion and the POMS scales. No dose/response relationship between distance to the river and evacuation status was obtained. The chemical spills was associated with a wide variety of psychological and physiological reactions.

Bowler RM1, Mergler D, Huel G, Cone JE | 1994
In: Neurotoxicology, ISSN 0161-813X | 15 | 3 | Fall | 723-729
Placement code: 
Yzermans collectie