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Researchers highlight hidden costs of hormone disrupting chemicals

$340 billion dollars: a new studyestimates that’s how much it costs Americans every year for daily low-level exposure to chemicals that mess with our hormonal systems. The figure includes health care costs and lost earnings. 

Dr. Leonardo Trasande is an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU School of Medicine.

“In our study, we focused on the chemicals for which the evidence was strongest for their contribution to disease. In particular, we focused on flame retardants, which are used in electronics, furniture and a variety of other products,” he says.

They also looked at pthlalates (chemicals used to make plastic soft), chemicals called bisphenols that line the inside of food cans, and certain pesticides.

He says endocrine disrupting chemicals can lower IQ, mess with the way our brains and metabolism work, and lead to birth defects.

"The purpose of this analysis was to permit a transparent comparison of the costs of safer alternatives with the benefits of prevention in the form of the reduced health care costs and other downstream consequences," he says.

Trasande says there are not enough resources going into screening chemicals for endocrine disruption.

"We need more substantial investment, whether it comes from Congress, or comes from other sources, for properly testing these chemicals. We can't have a framework where chemicals are simply innocent until proven guilty," he says.

The study was published in the journal, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Rebecca Williams is senior editor in the newsroom, where she edits stories and helps guide news coverage.
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