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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Harvard Finds Cost of Hormone-disrupting Chemical Exposure in Europe in Billions

Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDC) is estimated to cost the European Union more than €150 billion ($209 billion) a year in health care expenses and lost earning potential, according to studies by a team of 18 international researchers, including two Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health faculty. Conditions linked to the chemicals included lowered IQ, male infertility, diabetes, and obesity.

The findings were published in a series of papers March 5, 2015 in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

“The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation,” said study co-author Dr. Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor at Harvard’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health and professor of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark. The study authors found the loss of brain function due to EDCs likely costs at least $146 billion per year. Treatment, special education, and other services for children with lower IQs, learning or behavioral disorders were included among the estimated direct costs. The largest cost was lifetime loss of income.

Dr. Grandjean and Dr. Russ Hauser, Frederick Lee Hisaw Professor of Reproductive Physiology at Harvard Chan, co-authored the summary paper. Each chaired a group of researchers who prepared specialty topic papers for the journal on neurobehavioral deficits and diseases and male reproductive disorders and diseases. Read more