The solvent PCE and increased mental health risk


There is a link between the solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and increased risk of mental illness.

The solvent is widely used in industrial work settings and to dry clean clothes. It is a neurotoxin known to cause mood changes, anxiety, and depression in people who work with it and around it. The long-term effect of the chemical in children is less known. There is some data which suggests that children of those people who do work with PCE has an increased incidence of schizophrenia. New research is also showing 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 have been able to follow the health of people who lived in that area to track the incidences of mental illness and compare them to those who live with healthy ground water. They were also able to track the health of the children born of the adults who lived in that water district. Their exposure to PCE was before birth and in early childhood.

Regardless of PCE exposure, there was no increase in the incidence of depression. Still 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%.

“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. . . 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,” said Dr. Ann Aschengrau from Boston University School of Public Health.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Environmental Health


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