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Daily exposure to low-levels of Chemicals in everyday Objects cost Billions in Health Care and Disability in United States

Exposure to chemicals in pesticides, toys, makeup, food packaging and detergents costs the U.S. more than $340 billion annually due to health care costs and lost wages

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A worker uses a rope to move through a pile of empty plastic bottles at a recycling workshop in Mumbai, June 5, 2014. Plastic bottles are one of the everyday items that contain endocrine-disruptors.

Washington, October 19, 2016: Daily exposure to low-levels of chemicals found in everyday objects costs the United States billions of dollars in health care and disability. That is the conclusion of a new study on the effects of so-called endocrine-disruptors.

These small amounts of harmful chemicals are found in items such as plastic water bottles, metal food cans, toys, cosmetics and flame-retardants.

The new study conducted by researchers at New York University, published online in the journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, reports annual health-care costs associated with exposure to these chemicals is more than $340 billion. That is 2.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

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Experts say the endocrine-disrupting chemicals disrupt hormones in the body, and their accumulation can result in neurological and behavioural disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism in children, infertility, birth defects, and some cancers.

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E-Ds, as they are known, can also disrupt how the body handles calories, leading to obesity and diabetes, according to Leonardo Trasande, a professor of environmental medicine at NYU School of Medicine.

Trasande co-authored the study projecting the health-care costs of E-Ds by using a computer model to make the economic calculations. He and his colleagues used data from the results of urine and blood samples of participants in a large study that looked for the presence of E-Ds.

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Trasande says the $340 billion figure is probably conservative because researchers only calculated the cost of 5 percent of known endocrine-disrupters.

“And we only added up costs that were published in peer-reviewed literature documenting the effects of these diseases on health care and other related costs,” he said. “Often we were not able to include some of the emotional welfare loss that’s typically associated with these diseases like human suffering, which has a value to society.”

But there is some good news. Trasande says there are a number of things people can do to limit their exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

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“Families can eat organic. They can avoid the use of pesticides in their homes to prevent unwanted creatures. They can avoid microwaving plastic, limit the use of aluminum canned food. They can avoid dishwashing plastic; plastic water bottles with the numbers 3, 6 and 7.”

The authors got the idea for the study from a similar one conducted in Europe.

Trasande says the health-care costs of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in Europe are less because of stronger regulations of the chemicals, something he says is needed in the United States. (VOA)

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Indian Fashion Industry Must Embrace Safety, Says Suki Dusanj-Lenz at Lakme Fashion Week

 India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world

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Indian fashion industry
Sabyasachi Mukherjee's show at Lakme Fashion Week 2011 on day 1. Wikimedia
  • The country’s coordinator for Fashion Revolution India stressed upon the global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry
  • The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory
  • The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution so that what the world embraces what’s safe, clean and fair 

Mumbai, August 20, 2017: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution India.

For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry.

The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed after a structural failure in the building on April 24, 2013. The workers were making garments for the international market.

“The sad thing is the staff was complaining about the building but nobody listened,” she said.

Dusanj-Lenz is an advocate for gender equality, sustainability and champions the need for a fair and transparent fashion industry. She spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2017.

“Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro came together and founded the Fashion Revolution, which has spread to 100 countries. We are working towards a safer, fairer, cleaner fashion industry.”

Dusanj-Lenz is also Executive Director at the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director at MARD, a people powered initiative campaigning against discrimination.

Also Read: Eco-friendly Fashion: Should India Contribute on this Booming Global Market?

The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way clothes were sourced, produced and purchased so that what the world wears was made in a safe, clean and fair way.

“We want to empower every spectrum of the supply chain to transform the industry into a more sustainable one.”

Would she like to share about the sustainability issues of the Indian fashion industry?

“There are layers of complexities in the fashion industry but one thing for sure is that India must look to international standards for the safety of the staff?

“There are chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world, yet India still uses them.

“Are our lives any less than those of another country? In Kanpur, the leather making industry is astonishingly hazardous to the staff. Have you watched that movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Remember that chemical that was banned in the US that is the subject of that movie. Well, the Indian industry still uses it and our staff is exposed to the dangers of such chemicals,” she added.

“Let’s not have the people that make our garments or shoes pay the price for our fashion,” she added.

Talking about sustainable fashion in Indian fashion industry, Dusanj-Lenz said: “On the upside, India also has some incredibly sustainable brands and a massive recyclability culture which we must celebrate and encourage. Sustainable Fashion Day at the LFW brought many of them together.”

She said around 80 per cent of the garment makers in India were women.

“It’s important that we hear their voice and work to campaign for them and not against them. Fashion Revolution wants to educate the consumer about the damage throw away fashion has on our environment.

“We want to inform people about the dark side of polyester and viscose both in a landfill and the chemical process… There is always a price to pay for cheap fashion. Someone somewhere is paying for it,” she added. (IANS)

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Humans are Covering Earth with Plastic, says a New Study

Humans have created 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics since the early 1950s, and most of it now resides in landfills or the natural environment, a study on increasing plastic waste led by UC Santa Barbara has found.

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Plastic waste,
Plastic waste, Pixabay
  • The research provides with the first global analysis of the creation, utilization, and destiny of all plastics made at any point of time, including the manufactured strands
  • They found that worldwide production of plastic by 2015 had reached to 6.3 billion, that is a lot of plastic waste

Washington D.C. (US), July 26, 2017: Plastic waste is a cause of huge concern as it never really goes away. Plastic doesn’t biodegrade like other organic materials such as wood and paper. Due to this, every single piece of plastic ever made is still present today in some form or another. The rate at which plastic waste is increasing with each passing day is alarming. It’s leading to a ‘period of plastic’ and if the contamination level continues to rise, Earth will soon move towards a plastic planet.

People have created more than 8 billion metric tons of plastic since the large scale generation of manufactured materials that started in the early 1950s and it’s adequate to cover the whole of Argentina and most of the material now lives in the landfills or in the native habitat.

Such are the discoveries of a new study led by UC Santa Barbara modern environmentalist Roland Geyer. The research provides with the first global analysis of the creation, utilization, and destiny of all plastics made at any point of time, including the manufactured strands.

plastic bottles getting dumped, Pixabay

“We can’t proceed with anything new unless we need a planet that is completely shrouded in plastic,” said lead author Geyer. This paper conveys hard data on not only about how much plastic we’ve generated throughout the years but also its structure and the amount and kind of additives that that plastic contains. Geyer said, “I hope this data will be utilized by policymakers to enhance end-of-life management strategies for plastics.”

Geyer and his group compiled production statistics for resins, fibers, and additives from an assortment of industry sources and integrated them as per sort and consuming sector. They found that worldwide production of plastic resins and fibers saw an expansion of 2 million metric tons in 1950 to more than 400 million metric tons in 2015, exceeding most other man-made materials. Notable exemptions are steel and cement. While these materials are utilized principally for construction, the biggest market for plastics is packaging, which is utilized once and discarded afterward. ”Roughly 50% of all the steel we make goes into construction, so it will have many years of utilization; plastic is the inverse,” Geyer said. “Half of all plastics end up squandering following four or fewer years of use.”

Uninhabited Island in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean have the Highest Amount of Plastic Debris in the World

Also, the pace of plastic production hints at no signs of slowing anytime soon. Out of the total amount of plastic resins and fibers produced from 1950 to 2015, roughly half was created in the last 13 years. Geyer added, “What we are trying to do is to create the foundation for sustainable materials management.”

In simple words, we can’t manage what we don’t measure, and so we think that the policy discussions on it will be more informed and actuality based now that we have these numbers.

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The researchers also found that by 2015, people had produced 6.3 billion plastic waste. Out of which, only 9 % was recycled; 12 % was burned and 79 % gathered in landfills or the natural environment. If the present pattern continues, Geyer noted that about 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will be in landfills or the indigenous habitat by 2050.

“Most plastics don’t biodegrade in a true sense, so the plastic waste humans have produced could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years,” said co-author Jenna Jambeck.

“A Plastic Ocean”: The Film focusses on Plastics in the Oceans that is harming Marine Life

The study stresses upon the need to contemplate on the materials we use and our waste management practices. The investigators rush to alert that they don’t seek to dispose of plastic from the commercial sector but instead advocate a more thorough examination of plastic use.

“There are certain areas where the use of plastic is simply indispensable, such as the medical industry,” said co-author Kara Lavender Law.She added, “I do think we have to take a careful look at our use of plastics and ask ourselves if it makes sense.” The study on concerns of accumulating plastic waste appears in the journal Science Advances.

– prepared by Kritika Dua of NewsGram. Twitter @DKritika08


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Can Flourishing Islamic State (ISIS) be Stopped in Afghanistan?

The truth about IS and Afghanistan is definitely no picnic

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Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016.
Taliban fighters react to a speech by their senior leader in the Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan, May 27, 2016. The rise of IS in Afghanistan has become such a priority that U.S. and Afghan forces sometimes support the Taliban while battling IS, VOA
  • Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups
  • Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops
  • In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS

June 25, 2017: The Islamic State group is rapidly expanding in parts of Afghanistan, advancing militarily into areas where it once had a weak presence and strengthening its forces in core regions, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.

Depending on the location, the proliferation of IS has drawn varied resistance from the Afghan military, U.S. air support and ground troops, local militias, Taliban forces and other militant groups.

Attacking IS has become such a priority in the country, that disparate forces sometimes join together in the ad-hoc fight, with Afghan and U.S. forces finding themselves inadvertently supporting the enemy Taliban in battling IS.

Confusion leads to mistakes

All too often, officials say, mistakes are made due to confusion on the ground.

Afghan army planes on Wednesday night accidentally air dropped vital supplies of food and water to IS militants in the Darzab district of northern Jouzjan province instead of to their own besieged troops, provincial police chief, Rahmatullah Turkistani told VOA. The supplies were meant to help Afghan forces that are countering twin attacks by IS and Taliban militants but were used instead by IS.

“It’s not getting better in Afghanistan in terms of IS,” U.S. Chief Pentagon Spokeswoman Dana White told VOA this week. “We have a problem, and we have to defeat them and we have to be focused on that problem.”

Reinforcements for the IS cause reportedly are streaming into isolated areas of the country from far and wide. There are reports of fighters from varied nationalities joining the ranks, including militants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Russia and Central Asian neighbors.

Confusing scenarios

Still, the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISK) as IS is known in Afghanistan remains a fragmented group composed of differing regional forces with different agendas in different parts of the country.

“IS-K is still conducting low-level recruiting and distribution of propaganda in various provinces across Afghanistan, but it does not have the ability or authority to conduct multiple operations across the country,” a recent Pentagon report said. But where it operates, IS is inflicting chaos and casualties and causing confusing scenarios for disparate opponents.

In the Tora Bora area, where IS has made a strong stand in recent days, local villagers and militias joined with Taliban to rout IS. IS regained ground after a few days, leading to U.S. military air attacks on IS positions in conjunction with Afghan intelligence instructions and army operations.

IS fighters reportedly have fled from mountain caves of Tora Bora, where al-Qaida’s leader Osama bin Laden hid from U.S. attack in 2001.

Families displaced

IS fighters were also reportedly advancing in neighboring Khogyani district, displacing hundreds of families, according to district officials. It is one of several areas in Nangarhar province, near the Pakistani border, where IS has been active for over two years.

Fierce clashes in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar last month left 21 Taliban fighters and seven IS militants dead, according to a provincial spokesman. At least three civilians who were caught in the crossfire were killed and five others wounded.

“IS has overpowered Taliban in some parts of Nangarhar because the Taliban dispatched its elite commando force called Sara Qeta (Red Brigade) to other parts of the country, including some northern provinces to contain the growing influence of IS there,” Wahid Muzhda, a Taliban expert in Kabul, told VOA.

ALSO READ: Flashback to Terror: 1993 Mumbai Blasts Judgement to Hail on June 27 After 24 Years

Recruiting unemployed youths

IS has also expanded in neighboring Kunar province, where, according to provincial police chief, it has a presence in at least eight districts and runs a training base, where foreign members of IS, train new recruits.

Hundreds of miles from Nangarhar, IS is attempting to establish a persistent presence in several northern provinces where it has found a fertile ground for attracting militants and recruiting unemployed youths, mostly between the age of 13 and 20.

IS has been able to draw its members from the Pakistani Taliban fighters, former Afghan Taliban, and other militants who “believe that associating with or pledging allegiance” to IS will further their interests, according to the Pentagon report.

Hundreds of militants have joined IS ranks in northern Jouzjan and Sar-e-Pul province where local militant commanders lead IS-affiliate groups in several districts.

Darzab district

Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban militant who joined IS a year ago, claims to have up to 500 members, including around 50 Uzbek nationals who are affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) — previously associated with al-Qaida and Taliban in Afghanistan.

IS and Taliban are reportedly fighting over the control of Darzab district in Jouzjan which they stormed this week from two different directions and besieged scores of government forces. The Taliban has reportedly captured the center of the district while IS militants control the city outskirts.

Afghanistan faces a continuing threat from as many as 20 insurgent and terrorist networks present or operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including IS, the Pentagon said.

“In areas where the government has limited influence and control, IS attempts to emerge and expand there,” Ateequllah Amarkhail, an analysts and former Army general in Kabul told VOA.

Hit-and-hide strategy

IS has also claimed responsibility for several recent attacks in urban areas, however, with a hit-and-hide strategy that is proving effective. And it is engaging too in more skirmishes with U.S. forces that initially were sent to the country to help Afghan forces halt the spread of Taliban.

Three American service members based in eastern Afghanistan were killed in April during operations targeting IS militants, according to the Pentagon.

“ISIS-K remains a threat to Afghan and regional security, a threat to U.S. and coalition forces, and it retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks in urban centers,” the Pentagon said. (VOA)