Endocrine-disrupting chemicals used extensively in common household products and pesticides cost the U.S. more than $340 billion per year in medical costs and lost earnings, in additional to having a negative impact on intelligence, a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal found.
For the study, researchers reviewed blood and urine sample analyses documenting endocrine disruptors from chemical agents among participants in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can interfere with the body’s hormones, producing adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects. The chemicals are used in consumer plastics, flame retardants, food cans, cosmetics, detergents, and pesticides.
Researchers estimated the total costs to the U.S. linked to endocrine disrupting chemicals by tallying the direct cost of treatment and indirect costs associated with lost productivity and earnings. These costs were then compared to similar studies done in Europe.
One of the biggest culprits in the U.S. is extensive use of a chemical blend called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) that are applied to furniture to make it more flame resistant. This chemical mixture has been banned in Europe since 2008.
According to the study, PBDEs cause about 43,000 cases of intellectual disability each year and are linked to the loss of 11 million IQ points annually. In Europe, PBDEs cause about 3,290 cases of intellectual disability and are linked to a loss of 873,000 IQ points.
In financial terms, this amounts to a loss of $266 billion per year in the U.S., compared to a $12.6-billion decline in Europe.
Conversely, intellectual disability cases, IQ point loss, and associated costs linked to organophosphate pesticides were dramatically higher in Europe, where the chemicals are not strictly regulated, compared to the U.S. where their use has been heavily restricted for two decades.
Dr. Joseph Allen, a Harvard University public health researcher, told Fox News the study sheds a lot of light on the deep economic and health impact of U.S. environmental policy.
“Adults and children in the U.S. carry more industrial chemicals in their bodies than their European counterparts simply due to differences in chemical policies,” Dr. Allen told Fox News.
“In the U.S. our chemical policy largely follows the approach of our legal system — ‘innocent until proven guilty,'” Dr. Allen added. “This is appropriate for criminal justice policy but has disastrous consequences for health when used for chemical policy.”
Endocrine disruptors are linked to autism, attention-deficit disorder, obesity, diabetes, heart and vascular disorders, endometriosis, and a number of other diseases.
Source: Fox News