Researchers conclude they are 99 percent certain that hormone-altering chemicals are linked to attention problems, diabetes, other health problems.
By Elizabeth Grossman, for National Geographic
PUBLISHED MARCH 05, 2015
Many crops, like this one in California, are treated with pesticides linked to neurological effects in studies of children.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDY SACKS, THE IMAGE BANK/GETTY
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.