Health Costs Of Hormone Disrupting Chemicals Over €150bn A Year In Europe

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Lower IQ, adult obesity and 5% of autism cases are all linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics, says new expert study

Scientists recommend against pregnant women and children using plastic containers for food, especially in the microwave due to endocrine disruptors.

Europe is experiencing an explosion in health costs caused by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that is comparable to the cost of lead and mercury poisoning, according to the most comprehensive study of the subject yet published.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with the human hormone system, and can be found in food containers, plastics, furniture, toys, carpeting and cosmetics.

The new series of reports by 18 of the world’s foremost experts on endocrine science pegs the health costs of exposure to them at between €157bn-€270bn (£113bn-£195bn), or at least 1.23% of the continent’s GDP.

“The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation,” one of the report’s authors, Professor Philippe Grandjean of Harvard University, told the Guardian.

“Our brains need particular hormones to develop normally – the thyroid hormone and sex hormones like testosterone and oestrogen. They’re very important in pregnancy and a child can very well be mentally retarded because of a lack of iodine and the thyroid hormone caused by chemical exposure.”

After IQ loss, adult obesity linked to exposure to phthalates, a group of chemicals used in plastics, was the second largest part of the overall cost, with an estimated price tag of €15.6bn a year, according to the paper, which was published on Thursday in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The study attributes at least 5% of European autism cases to EDC exposure, but Grandjean said the figure likely under-estimated the linkage, because of difficulties in measuring foetal exposure to chemicals after a child had been born.

“I would recommend that pregnant women and children eat organic fruits and vegetables and avoid using plastic containers and canned food, especially in the microwave, because containers are usually treated on the inside with substances and compounds that can leak into the tomato soup and may act as endocrine disruptors,” he said.

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Suppressed EU Report Could Have Banned 31 Pesticides

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Science paper recommended ways of identifying hormone-mimicking chemicals in pesticides linked to foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, infertility and other diseases including cancer

As many as 31 pesticides with a value running into billions of pounds could have been banned because of potential health risks, if a blocked EU paper on hormone-mimicking chemicals had been acted upon, the Guardian has learned.

The science paper, seen by the Guardian, recommends ways of identifying and categorising the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that scientists link to a rise in foetal abnormalities, genital mutations, infertility, and adverse health effects ranging from cancer to IQ loss.

Commission sources say that the paper was buried by top EU officials under pressure from big chemical firms which use EDCs in toiletries, plastics and cosmetics, despite an annual health cost that studies peg at hundreds of millions of euros.

The unpublished EU paper says that the risks associated with exposure to even low-potency EDCs is so great that potency alone should not serve as a basis for chemicals being approved for use. Its proposed criteria for categorisations of EDCs – along with a strategy for implementing them – was supposed to have enabled EU bans of hazardous substances to take place last year.

But commission officials say that under pressure from major chemical industry players, such as Bayer and BASF, the criteria were blocked. In their place, less stringent options emerged, along with a plan for an impact assessment that is not expected to be finalised until 2016.

“We were ready to go with the criteria and a strategy proposal as well but we we were told to forget about it by the secretary general’s office,” a commission source told the Guardian. “Effectively the criteria were suppressed. We allowed the biocides and pesticides legislation to roll over.”
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