Costs associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals estimated to be between €150-260 billion per year in the EU
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Costs associated with exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals estimated to be between €150-260 billion per year in the EU

This is “considerable” higher than recent estimates which had put the cost at €31 billion per year. Human exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is said to contribute to a number of diseases and health conditions in the EU, with costs estimated between €150-260 billion per year. This is equal to 1.2 to 2.0 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This is the main finding of a new series of studies to be published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

EDCs are chemicals that interfere with hormone action and are commonly found in food and food containers, plastic products, furniture, toys, carpeting, building materials and cosmetics.

They include chemicals such as bisphenol A, used in water bottles and can linings, certain phthalates, used in various plastic products and cosmetics, and pesticides such as chlorpyrifos which are used on a wide variety of food crops.

They are often released from the products that contain them and enter the bodies of humans and wildlife through dust or through the food chain.

In their studies, researchers used available epidemiologic and toxicologic evidence to assess the economic burden of potential outcomes to EDC exposure, including: infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurobehavioral and learning disorders.

Researchers believe that the “spiralling” rates of hormone-related disease may be due to exposure to “hormone-mimicking” synthetic chemicals found in food, drink and everyday products.The study says that a portion of hormone-related cancers, diabetes and obesity and infertility could be avoided by reducing exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals.

If that happens “billions in costs from these diseases and conditions could be saved.”

Researchers go on to say that a change in European chemicals policy could “massively” reduce costs associated with cases of hormone-related diseases and conditions.

One Brussels-based health expert said, “The message is clear – the EU should act now.”

The calculation in the report draws on a list of diseases and conditions that expert scientists involved in EDC research have identified as “endocrine-related”.

By Martin Banks