Psychophysiological Effects of Toxic Chemical Contamination Exposure: A Community Field Study


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Robert J. Gatchel, Ph.D., Division of Psychology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75235–9044.


The present study evaluated the psychophysiological impact of an environmental stressor—potential health threats to residents due to chronic exposure to toxic chemical contamination. Residents of a community exposed to this toxic contamination were compared with residents in a demographically matched community not exposed to such contamination. A battery of self-report. performance, and physiological measures were administered to residents in these two communities. Results demonstrated that residents of the contaminated community exhibited significantly more symptoms of stress (greater self-report indices, poorer task performance, and higher diastolic blood pressure levels) relative to residents in the comparison community. Such findings indicate that these exposure-community residents are being significantly impacted by this environmental stressor.