Exposure to environmental chemicals and type 1 diabetes: an update

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2019 Jun;73(6):483-488. doi: 10.1136/jech-2018-210627. Epub 2019 Mar 12.


This narrative review summarises recently published epidemiological and in vivo experimental studies on exposure to environmental chemicals and their potential role in the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). These studies focus on a variety of environmental chemical exposures, including to air pollution, arsenic, some persistent organic pollutants, pesticides, bisphenol A and phthalates. Of the 15 epidemiological studies identified, 14 include measurements of exposures during childhood, 2 include prenatal exposures and 1 includes adults over age 21. Together, they illustrate that the role of chemicals in T1DM may be complex and may depend on a variety of factors, such as exposure level, timing of exposure, nutritional status and chemical metabolism. While the evidence that these exposures may increase the risk of T1DM is still preliminary, it is critical to investigate this possibility further as a means of preventing T1DM.

Keywords: BPA; arsenic; endocrine disrupting chemicals; perfluoroalkyl substances; persistent organic pollutants; pesticides; phthalates; type 1 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / chemically induced*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Research / trends*


  • Environmental Pollutants