Psychological effects of hazardous materials exposures

Dana F. Kovalchick, Jefferey L. Burgess, Kelly B. Kyes, James F. Lymp, Joan E. Russo, Peter P. Roy-Byrne, Carl A. Brodkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: To study psychological outcomes after hazardous materials incidents. Methods: Individuals exposed to hazardous materials were contacted to complete a telephone questionnaire within 8 to 40 days of the incident. The Brief Symptoms Inventory was used for psychological assessment. General severity index, depression, anxiety, hostility, and somatization were analyzed. Positive findings were defined as two standard deviations above a normative mean. Results: A total of 202 (60%) of the 339 subjects in 87 incidents were surveyed. For 159 adults with valid Brief Symptoms Inventory scores, all dimensions were within normal ranges of elevation, with 1% to 5% of the subject pool having elevation, except for somatization. Twenty-four (14%) of 160 subjects had elevated somatization scores. Based on logistic regression analysis, prior medical therapy for a psychological condition and transport to a health care facility were predictors of elevated somatization scores. Conclusions: Somatization was the most frequently elevated score after exposure to hazardous materials incidents. Further research is needed to determine whether specific risk factors are useful in identifying individuals for intervention after hazardous materials incidents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)841-846
Number of pages6
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002


  • Brief Symptoms Inventory
  • Chemical exposures
  • Hazardous materials
  • Psychological effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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