Superfund Research Program
Early Life Exposure to Tetrachloroethylene (PCE)-Contaminated Drinking Water and Social Stressors may Interact to Increase the Risk of Substance Use Later in Life
Ann Aschengrau, Sc.D., and her team have begun data collection tasks for their current study on the impact of early life exposure to environmental chemicals (including those commonly found at dry cleaner establishments, i.e., Perchloroethylene) and social stressors on substance use. This is particularly relevant to the Cape Cod area given their epidemic of opiod overdoses. The Aschengrau team has customized a questionnaire to measure early life exposure to social stressors, adolescent and adult illicit drug use, adolescent and adult unhealthy alcoholic beverage consumption, and relevant confounding variables. The team also collected and computerized community-level data on poverty and crime and developed a computerized tracking system for participant follow-up and data collection. During this period, the Aschengrau team also completed data analyses and have written several manuscripts stemming from her prior SRP studies on the impact of prenatal environmental chemical exposure through the mother’s drinking water on reproductive outcomes (e.g., delayed time to pregnancy, stillbirths, birth defects), and teenage risk-taking behaviors such as drug and alcohol use the impact of traffic-related air pollution on ischemic placental disease; and the impact of childhood fish consumption on neuropsychological functioning. Aschengrau also presented her research findings in a variety of settings, including the annual meeting of the Superfund Research Program; webinars sponsored by the Collaborative on Health and the Environment and the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition; and a meeting of health agents in Massachusetts. Published results to date suggest that prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals like through drinking water and maternal alcohol use appear to increase the risk of teenage drug use in an additive manner.