Cost Analysis of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in US

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Teresa Attina, MD, PhD
Research Scientist
NYU Langone School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
New York, NY 10016

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) have been recently documented to contribute substantially to disease and dysfunction in the European Union (EU), with an annual estimated cost of €163 billion, corresponding to 1.28% of EU Gross Domestic Product. Our current study documents even greater annual costs in the US, $340 billion, corresponding to 2.33% of US GDP. These findings speak to the large health and economic benefits to regulating EDCs, which should be weighed against the cost of safer alternatives.

The different costs between the EU and the US are due to different exposure levels to EDCs, and policy predicts exposure. US costs are higher mainly because of the widespread use of brominated flame retardants in furniture, whereas Europe restricted its use in 2008. Americans have much higher levels, such that the average American has a serum level of these chemicals that would be in the top 5% of Europeans. As a result, children born to pregnant women have lower IQs, such that more children suffer from intellectual disability.

On the other hand, in Americans, levels of certain pesticides in foods are much lower due to the Food Quality Protection Act, which requires additional safety thresholds to protect pregnant women and children from exposure. The costs of pesticide exposures in the US were much lower ($12.6 billion) compared to Europe ($121 billion) because fewer children suffer loss of IQ as a result.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There are safe and simple steps that people can take to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. These include eating organic foods whenever possible, limiting canned food consumption, not microwaving food in plastic containers or covered by plastic wrap, and washing plastic food containers by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher. People can also avoid using plastic containers labeled on the bottom with the numbers 3, 6 or 7 (inside the recycle symbol), in which chemicals such as phthalates are used. Ventilating your home regularly and switching to “all natural” or “fragrance-free” cosmetics can also reduce exposure.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Our findings speak to the large health and economic benefits to regulating EDCs, which should be weighed against the cost of safer alternatives. One of the main goals of this analysis was to argue for a transparent debate comparing costs of diseases versus costs of safer alternatives, like what we saw during the elimination of lead from gasoline and the enormous benefits for children in terms of neurodevelopment. In terms of screening and prevention, based on our findings, a stronger regulatory oversight of endocrine-disrupting chemicals is needed in the US. This should include not only safety tests on the chemicals’ use in the manufacture of commercial products before the chemicals receive government approval, but also studies of their health impact over time once they are used in consumer products.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the USA: a population-based disease burden and cost analysis
Attina, Teresa M et al.
The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology , Volume 0 , Issue 0 ,
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-8587(16)30275-3

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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