Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A field of soybeans. (Photo: Tom Erickson/flickr/cc)

A field of soybeans. (Photo:  Tom Erickson/flickr/cc)

Toxic Chemicals Costing Society Billions in Damages to Human Health Alone

New study finds hormone-disrupting chemicals found in pesticides, plastics, and more driving staggering—and costly—human health problems

Sarah Lazare

Hormone-disrupting chemicals found in human-made products—from plastics to pesticides—are causing health problems that cost society billions, a new study finds.

Published Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, the examination was conducted by eighteen researchers in eight countries and is the first attempt to quantify the concrete costs of these chemicals.

According to researchers, the costs come to more than $170 billion a year in Europe alone—what they call a "conservative" estimate.

But beyond the dollar amount, the human health problems the study highlights are staggering.

"Global experts in this field concluded that infertility and male reproductive dysfunctions, birth defects, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurobehavioral and learning disorders were among the conditions than can be attributed in part to exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)," reads a summary of the research.

Nneka Leiba, deputy director of research for Environmental Working Group, points out that endocrine-disruptors are found in common products around the world: "Potent hormone disruptors such as bisphenol A, or BPA, are in the lining of most canned goods and on many cash register receipts. Phthalates are in PVC plastic, food packaging and personal care products. And brominated flame retardants are ubiquitous in most upholstered furniture."

Researchers found that, in the EU, intellectual disabilities caused by prenatal exposure to pesticides containing organophosphates—which are endocrine disruptors—were the number one cause of this high cost.

"The analysis demonstrates just how staggering the cost of widespread endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure is to society," said Leonardo Trasande, associate professor at New York University who led the study. "This research crystallizes more than three decades of lab and population-based studies of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the EU."

And Leiba notes "this is not just a European problem. Americans are routinely exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in everyday consumer products."

Leiba adds, "All of them are everywhere in American households."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Wholesale Fraud' in Michigan Governor Race Could Disqualify GOP Candidates

"It looks like the Republican clown car may be losing a few occupants."

Jessica Corbett ·


Jayapal Says Corporate-Friendly No Labels Shows 'True Colors' by Undermining Jan. 6 Investigation

"To malign the January 6 Committee as a 'partisan exercise' is a dangerous message for the American public and our democracy—one that deeply undermines the committee's work and denies the truth about the Republican Party."

Brett Wilkins ·


As End of Roe Looms, US Doctors Say 'Abortion Is Essential Healthcare'

"Although ACOG's long-standing abortion policy supported safe, legal, evidence-based abortion care, the current reproductive health crisis calls for revisions which make it unmistakably clear that ACOG trusts doctors and patients," said the group.

Julia Conley ·


Biaggi to Primary 'Selfish Corporate Democrat' Sean Patrick Maloney in NY

The New York state senator says she's running "to protect and defend our democracy, to halt the climate crisis, to grow our supply of affordable housing, and to transform our government and economy to serve us all."

Andrea Germanos ·


'Not About Nostalgia': Poor People's Campaign Marches in Memphis Ahead of DC Gathering

"It's been 54 years since the sanitation worker's march," said Bishop William J. Barber II, "and right here in Memphis they still don't have union rights."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo