Send to

Choose Destination
Schizophr Res. 2017 Mar;181:55-59. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2016.10.003. Epub 2016 Oct 6.

Environmental pollution and risk of psychotic disorders: A review of the science to date.

Author information

USC Psichiatria 1, Department of Mental Health, ASST Papa Giovanni XXIII, Piazza OMS 1, 24127 Bergamo, Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Psychiatry, Erasme Hospital, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Route de Lennik 808, 1070 Anderlecht, Belgium. Electronic address:
Centro di Selezione e Reclutamento Nazionale dell'Esercito, Italian Ministry of Defence, Viale Mezzetti 2, 06034 Foligno, PG, Italy. Electronic address:
Lenox Hill Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Hempstead, New York, USA. Electronic address:


Environmental pollution is a global problem with diverse and substantial public health implications. Although many environmental (i.e., non-genetic) risk factors for schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders have been identified, there has been comparatively little research on pollution as a possible risk factor. This is despite the fact that gene-by-environment interactions and epigenetic mechanisms are now recognized as likely facets of the etiology of schizophrenia, and the fact that pollution could potentially mediate the association between urban birth/upbringing and elevated risk. We conducted a review of the literature to date in order to summarize and synthesize work in this area. We identified 13 research reports and 16 review articles. Based on the extant knowledge in this area and what is known about the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, it is feasible that exposure to xenobiotic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, constituents of air pollution such as particulate matter and nitrogen and sulfur oxides, organic solvents, and other constituents of environmental pollution could be component causes. Further research-from the cellular to epidemiological levels-is clearly needed. If causation is proven, enhancements of policy intended to reduce human exposure to environmental pollution could reduce the burden of schizophrenia and possibly other mental illnesses.


Environmental risk; Pollutants; Pollution; Psychosis; Schizophrenia

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center