This study aimed to investigate the effects of chemical pollution with hexavalent chromium on the mental health of mothers with school/pre-school age children, residents of the area of the Asopos basin in Eastern Central Greece. The people of this area have been experiencing great threat regarding their health each and every day, as a result of the well-documented pollution by hexavalent chromium in drinking and ground-water, which is related to the widespread industrial activity, the usage of hexavalent chromium in various processes and the discharges of Cr-bearing wastes. The environmental impact of hexavalent chromium is a controversial issue critical to the protection of groundwater resources, as it affects the soil and the products from local cultivations used in daily food. This condition has been documented scientifically and was published in the mass media as a serious threat to human and animal life in the specific area. Although in Greece serious environmental-technological disasters have occurred during the last decades, there is a lack of studies on the possible consequences, including the psychological impact on the local population. The sample of this study included eighty-eight mothers of young children, residents of the area of Asopos, who were compared with eighty-eight mothers living in a non-polluted area – the area of Kiato in Northern Peloponnese, as a control group. They were assessed by the CES-D scale and the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Scale (STAI I-II), which have been standardized for the Greek population. Results indicated that depression and anxiety were significantly correlated with the place of residence [CES-D: t(169,496)=3.45, p=0.001; STAI I-II: A-state: t(174)=10,131, p=0.000; A-trait: t(174)=8,728, p=0.000]. Mothers from the Asopos basin reported more symptoms of depression (Mean=24,14, SD=11,345) than the control group (Mean=18,68, SD=9,625). Similarly, they have scored higher in both subscales of STAI I-II, measuring state and trait anxiety (A-state: Mean=49,66, SD=12,345; A-trait: Mean=46,76, SD=11,458) than the control group (A-state: Mean=32,24, SD=10,383; A-trait: Mean=32,32, SD=10,474). Regarding the anxiety as a personality trait (STAI-II), mothers in Asopos Area reported higher levels of stress that is likely to be associated with the long-term stressful situation of pollution. It could be assumed that mothers from Asopos Area scored higher in both anxiety scales, as a result of the environmental disaster that has been occurred in the area and the high risk that this poses to life. These results confirm relevant literature findings on depression and feelings of anger in regions that have suffered industrial or physical disasters, and suggest that fighting against chemical pollution in Asopos area also needs additional implementation with psychological support to mothers of children growing in the area. Up to date, no psychosocial support has been provided to the residents at the community level. Further research should be carried out in order to measure the impact of chemical pollution on the psychological well-being and health of all members of the local community.

Key words: Αnxiety, depression, hexavalent chromium, chemical pollution

S. Nika, D. Ploumpidis, J. Zervas, G.N. Papadimitriou, M. Tzinieri-Kokkosi (page 97) - Full article (Greek)