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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)

Next Story

Mother’s Exposure to Some Chemicals During Pregnancy Linked to Lower IQ in Kids: Study

This study, published in the journal Environment International, is among the first to look at prenatal suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical mixtures in relation to neurodevelopment

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Pregnancy
The scientists measured 26 chemicals in the blood and urine of 718 mothers during the first trimester of Pregnancy in the study of Swedish mothers and children, known as SELMA. Pixabay

Exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy to certain chemicals found in plastic food and drink containers and other chemicals found in consumer products is related to lower IQ in children by age 7, warns a study.

Some of these chemicals cross the placenta during pregnancy, exposing the foetus and potentially causing irreversible developmental damage, said the study.

“This study is significant because most studies evaluate one chemical at a time; however, humans are exposed to many chemicals at the same time, and multiple exposures may be harmful even when each individual chemical is at a low level,” said Eva Tanner, postdoctoral researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

This study, published in the journal Environment International, is among the first to look at prenatal suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical mixtures in relation to neurodevelopment.

The scientists measured 26 chemicals in the blood and urine of 718 mothers during the first trimester of their pregnancies in the study of Swedish mothers and children, known as SELMA.

These chemicals included bisphenol A (BPA), which is found in plastic food and drink containers, as well as pesticides, phthalates, and other chemicals found in consumer products.

Some of the 26 chemicals are known to disrupt endocrine (hormone) activity in humans; others have been shown to do so only in animals, or are suspected of endocrine disruption because they share chemical features with known disruptors.

Researchers later followed up with the children at age 7 and found that those whose mothers had higher levels of the chemicals in their system during pregnancy had lower IQ scores –particularly boys, whose scores were lower by two points.

Within the mixture, bisphenol F (BPF), a BPA-replacement compound, made the highest contribution to lowering children’s IQ, suggesting that BPF is not any safer for children than BPA.

Pregnancy
Exposure during the first trimester of Pregnancy to certain chemicals found in plastic food and drink containers and other chemicals found in consumer products is related to lower IQ in children by age 7, warns a study. Pixabay

The study found that other chemicals of concern in the mixture were the pesticide chloropyrifos; polyfluoroalkyl substances, which are found in cleaning products; triclosan, a chemical found in antibacterial soaps; and phthalates, which are found in soft polyvinyl chloride plastics and cosmetics.

Many of the chemicals only stay in the body a short time, meaning that even a short-term exposure may be detrimental.

So the researchers believe this indicates that preventing exposure to pregnant women or women trying to become pregnant is critical to preventing neurological harm to children.

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It shows that exposure to mixtures of chemicals in ordinary consumer products may affect child brain development and that some chemicals believed to be safer, like BPF, may not be any safer for children, said Carl-Gustaf Bornehag, Professor at Karlstad University in Sweden. (IANS)