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Comment & Response
July 17, 2019

Lead Exposure as a Confounding Factor in the Association of Air Pollution Exposure and Psychotic Experiences

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Life Course and Aging, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(10):1095-1096. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1691

To the Editor We read with interest the article by Newbury et al1 on the association of air pollution exposure and psychotic experiences during adolescence. We agree with the authors that the strong association between exposure to nitrogen oxides and psychotic experiences implicates road traffic. We hypothesize that exposure to the extensively studied and formerly ubiquitous developmental neurotoxin, tetraethyl lead, may be causally linked to psychotic disorders and may confound the observed association between nitrogen oxides and psychotic experiences. Leaded gasoline was not completely banned in the United Kingdom until 1999. Prior to that, all individuals, including children and pregnant women, living close to major roads and in larger cities with substantial automobile traffic had considerable exposure to tetraethyl lead from car exhaust.

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