Water Contaminant Levels Interact with Parenting Environment to Predict Development of Depressive Symptoms in Adolescents

Publication Date


Document Type


Organizational Units

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Psychology


Depressive symptoms, Environmental contamination, Family relationships, Lead, Psychological health, Water quality


Contaminants in drinking water, such as lead, nitrate, and arsenic, have been linked to negative physical health outcomes. We know less, however, about whether such pollutants also predict mental health problems and, if so, the conditions under which such effects are strongest. In this longitudinal study, we examined whether drinking water contaminants interact with negative family environments (parental psychological control) to predict changes in depressive symptoms in 110 adolescents—a developmental period when symptoms often first emerge. We found that for adolescents in psychologically controlling families, levels of drinking water contaminants prospectively predicted depressive symptoms 2 years later; this effect was not present in adolescents in non‐controlling families. Importantly, these associations were not accounted for by family‐ or community‐level socioeconomic resources, demographic features, or by the adolescents’ stress exposure. These findings highlight the interplay of physical and psychological environments in influencing depressive symptoms in adolescents.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. User is responsible for all copyright compliance. This article was originally published as:

Manczak, E. M., Miller, J. G., & Gotlib, I. H. (2020). Water contaminant levels interact with parenting environment to predict development of depressive symptoms in adolescents. Developmental Science, 23(1), E12838. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.12838

Rights Holder

John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Received from CHORUS


English (eng)

Publication Title

Developmental Science



First Page




This document is currently not available here.