Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) via daily use of plastics is a major contributor to the overall disease burden in the United States and the associated costs to society amount to more than 1% of the gross domestic product, revealed a large-scale analysis.
The research, published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society on January 11, indicated that taken together, the disease burden attributable to EDCs used in the manufacture of plastics added up to almost $250 billion in 2018 alone.
“The diseases due to plastics run the entire life course from preterm birth to obesity, heart disease, and cancers,” commented lead author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, Jim G. Hendrick, MD Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, in a release.
“Our study drives home the need to address chemicals used in plastic materials” through global treaties and other policy initiatives, he said, so as to “reduce these costs” in line with reductions in exposure to the chemicals.
Co-author Michael Belliveau, Executive Director at Defend Our Health in Portland, ME, agreed, saying: “We can reduce these health costs and the prevalence of chronic endocrine diseases such as diabetes and obesity if governments and companies enact policies that minimize exposure to EDCs to protect public health and the environment.”
Plastics may contain any one of a number of EDCs, such as polybrominated diphenylethers in flame retardant additives, phthalates in food packaging, bisphenols in can linings, and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in nonstick cooking utensils.
These chemicals have been shown to leach and disturb the body’s hormone systems, increasing the risk for cancer, diabetes, reproductive disorders, neurological impairments in developing fetuses and children, and even death.
In March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly committed to a global plastics treaty to “end plastic pollution and forge an international legally binding agreement by 2024” that “addresses the full lifecycle of plastic, including its production, design and disposal.”
Minimizing EDC Exposure
But what can doctors tell their patients today to help them reduce their exposure to EDCs?
“There are safe and simple steps that people can take to limit their exposure to the chemicals of greatest concern,” Trasande told Medscape Medical News.
This can be partly achieved by reducing plastic use down to its essentials. “To use an example, when you are flying, fill up a stainless steel container after clearing security. At home, use glass or stainless steel” rather than plastic bottles or containers.
In particular, “avoiding microwaving plastic is important,” Trasande said, “even if a container says it’s microwave-safe.”
He warned that “many chemicals used in plastic are not covalently bound, and heat facilitates leaching into food. Microscopic contaminants can also get into food when you microwave plastic.”
Trasande also suggests limiting canned food consumption and avoiding cleaning plastic food containers in machine dishwashers.
Calculating the Disease Burden
To accurately assess the “the tradeoffs involved in the ongoing reliance on plastic production as a source of economic productivity,” the current researchers calculated the attributable disease burden and cost related to EDCs used in plastic materials in the United States in 2018.
Building on previously published analyses, they used industry reports, publications by national and international governing bodies, and peer-reviewed publications to determine the usage of each type of EDC and its attributable disease and disability burden.
This plastic-related fraction (PRF) of disease burden was then used to calculate an updated cost estimate for each EDC, based on the assumption that the disease burden is directly proportional to its exposure.
They found that for bisphenol A, 97.5% of its use, and therefore its estimated PRF of disease burden, was related to the manufacture of plastics, while this figure was 98%-100% for phthalates. For PDBE, 98% of its use was in plastics vs 93% for PFAS.
The researchers then estimated that the total plastic-attributable disease burden in the United States in 2018 cost the nation $249 billion, or 1.22% of the gross domestic product. Of this, $159 billion was linked to PDBE exposure, which is associated with diseases such as cancer.
Moreover, $1.02 billion plastic-attributable disease burden was associated with bisphenol A exposure, which can have potentially harmful health effects on the immune system; followed by $66.7 billion due to phthalates, which are linked to preterm birth, reduced sperm count, and childhood obesity; and $22.4 billion due to PFAS, which are associated with kidney failure and gestational diabetes.
The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Passport Foundation.
Trasande declared relationships with Audible, Houghton Mifflin, Paidos, and Kobunsha, none of which relate to the present manuscript.
No other financial relationships were declared.
Source link : https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/whats-disease-burden-plastic-exposure-2024a10000q4?src=rss
Publish date : 2024-01-11 14:00:00
Copyright for syndicated content belongs to the linked Source.