New analysis predicts that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals could be costing the EU about 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion) a year.
A wide range of chemicals are considered endocrine disrupters, including DDT, BPA, some pharmaceuticals, dioxin and others. We come into contact with these chemicals through a variety of everyday products including plastics, toys, food, flame retardants and pesticides.
These chemicals can interfere with the body’s endocrine systems and cause the greatest harm to developing fetuses and newborns because organ and neural systems are forming.
Exposure to these chemicals have already been linked to a host of health issues, including obesity, pre-term labor and diabetes. But this study, conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, focused on medical costs associated with two diseases that affect the uterus: endometriosis and uterine fibroids.
According to Reuters, the researchers looked at issues such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Using data that measured the levels of certain chemicals like diphenyl dichloroethene (DDE), they estimated the number of cases that could be attributed to chemical exposure. They then estimated the cost to treat these diseases to arrive at their total.
For example, they estimated that 56,000 cases of fibroids could be attributed to DDE exposure and found that treating the condition racked up $185 million in medical costs in 2010.
As Reuters notes, however, the accuracy of these estimates are questionable because toxicological evidence linking chemicals to each outcome was “only moderate.”
The researchers still recommended that policymakers attempt to enact new regulations to curb exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. Their estimates did not include the cost of developing replacement chemicals, but other studies have estimated that it could cost billions of dollars.