A new study from the New York University estimates that chemicals from commonly used household items like plastic bottles, metal food cans, detergents, cosmetics and pesticides was found to result in health problems which costs upto $ 340 billion per year in the United States.
The study published in the Lancet journal
evaluated the chemicals that interfere with the normal functions of the endocrine system.
‘Exposure of endocrine disruptor chemicals lead to health costs of $340 billion per year in the United States.’
The chemicals are referred to as endocrine disruptors since they interfere with the body's endocrine system resulting in developmental, neurological or reproductive effects.
Dr. Leonardo Trasande, a researcher at New York University Langone Medical Center and senior author of the study also said that "These findings speak to the large health and economic benefits to regulating endocrine-disrupting chemicals"
Blood and urine samples from U.S. participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was reviewed by the researchers.
The estimated cost related to these chemicals were based on both the direct cost required for treatment and indirect cost which covers loss in productivity or earnings. The study results in U.S. were compared to the previous studies done in Europe.
Scientists found that polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) was found to be responsible for intellectual disability among 43000 cases in U.S compared to the 3290 cases in Europe. This resulted in a loss of 11 million IQ points in the U.S while comparing with loss of 873000 IQ points in Europe.
Thus, the costs associated with PBDE accounts about $266 billion per year in the U.S when compared to $12.6 billion in Europe.
Organophosphate chemical in pesticides which are restricted in the U.S. since 1996, resulted in 7500 cases of intellectual disability which links to 1.8 million lost IQ points each year. While in Europe where it is not strictly regulated, 59,300 cases of intellectual disability were seen with 13 million lost IQ points.
The costs related with organophosphates were found to be $44.7 billion in the U.S and $194 billion in Europe.
Cost analysis of health problems associated with the chemicals was limited to a subset of 5 percent of endocrine disruptors. This may be a limitation of the study as the costs may be underestimated.
Joseph Allen, a public health researcher at Harvard University in Boston said that "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."
Leonardo Trasande, a New York University professor who studies environmental health said that "Exposures in the United States are similar in some ways, but they also differ, that's in large part to differences in regulation between Europe and the U.S."
Scientists are calling for a stronger regulation to cut down health costs that occurs due to the use of such chemicals.
The author also said that eating plenty of organic foods and avoiding the use of plastic containers and canned foods may help in the prevention of various health problems that are associated with chemicals.