National Geographic: Exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals is likely leading to an increased risk of serious health problems costing at least $175 billion (U.S.) per year in Europe alone, according to a study published Thursday.
Chemicals that can mimic or block estrogen or other hormones are commonly found in thousands of products around the world, including plastics, pesticides, furniture, and cosmetics.
The new research estimated health care costs in Europe, where policymakers are debating whether to enact the world’s first regulations targeting endocrine disruptors. The European Union’s controversial strategy, if approved, would have a profound effect on industries and consumer products worldwide.
Linda Birnbaum, the leading environmental health official in the U.S. government, called the new findings, which include four published papers, “a wake-up call” for policymakers and health experts.
“If you applied these [health care] numbers to the U.S., they would be applicable, and in some cases higher,” says Birnbaum, director of the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
The researchers detailed the costs related to three types of conditions: neurological effects, such as attention deficit disorders; obesity and diabetes; and male reproductive disorders, including infertility.