Are pollution or toxic chemicals related to lupus?

Lupus Foundation of America

Resource Content

The short answer is we do not know. The cause of lupus, and many other autoimmune diseases, remains unknown. The respective roles of genetic and environmental factors in triggering lupus remain to be determined. 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the principal biomedical research agency of the United States Government established the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to study issues related to environmental health. A number of studies are suggestive that some pollutants are linked with lupus though none are to the point of being scientifically proven. 

Jobs involving inhaled silica, including farming in sandy soil areas, are linked with autoimmune diseases including lupus. There is also interest in mercury exposure but again none of these exposures are accepted as proven risk factors for lupus at this time.

Medically reviewed on