chapter  6
19 Pages

Predictors of Psychological Distress in the Community Following Two Toxic Chemical Incidents

WithJeffrey S. Markowitz, Elane M. Gutterman

This chapter examines predictors of psychological distress in the community following two toxic chemical incidents. The first incident occurred in April 1980 in Elizabeth, New Jersey and involved an explosion of toxic chemical wastes. Residents from a community several miles away in Staten Island, New York comprised the target population. The second incident occurred more than 4 years later in Linden, New Jersey and involved leaking malathion pesticide fumes. The chapter explores the relative value of a number of sociodemographic, situational, and attitudinal dimensions to predict post-incident psychological distress in two different communities, Travis and Linden–Perth Amboy, that were affected by the two toxic chemical incident. The two communities differed across a wide range of survey characteristics. In identifying predictors of demoralization following the toxic chemical incidents, similar results were obtained, particularly with regard to the predictive role of perceived threat to physical health.