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Title: Don't Drink The Water: Thoughts of Exposure to Lead Contaminated Drinking Water Increases Stress
Authors: Schneider, TC
Advisors: Haushofer, Johannes
Department: Psychology
Certificate Program: Global Health and Health Policy Program
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: In 2014, lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water made national headlines. Since then, lead has been a major point of interest for the public, researchers, and government officials. Yet, proportionally little research has been conducted on lead as it pertains to its effects on mental health. This paper investigated how stress may specifically manifest itself within affected populations. This research was conducted in Ranger, Texas, a rural town of 3,000 people that has chronically dealt with leaded drinking water. Briefly, the experimental group was shown a short priming article about the lead epidemic in Ranger and the harmful effects of this exposure. The control group received no priming. All subjects were then given the ten item version of Cohen’s Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). It was found that the lead-primed group exhibited higher levels of stress than the control group (p = .01). Tests showed that the possible mechanisms of this are related to the situation’s effect on their daily habits, finances, and type of water consumed. An analysis comparing parental and non-parental stress levels using this same data failed to show significance. This study aimed to show that exposure to leaded drinking water is not only a biological health problem, but also one of mental health. The largest limitation of this study was the role that survivorship bias had on the sample population. Future research should include replication in other populations that could further address the fundamental cause of the stress response as being either lead exposure, drinking water contamination, or a mix of the two.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2022
Global Health and Health Policy Program, 2017-2022

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