Study on cost of exposure to EDCs in the US – or the art of beautifying inconsistent data

You may have read in La, Le Monde, or that the alleged impact of exposure to endocrine disruptors in the US is an extraordinary $340 billion. This number is so large is seems implausible. And it probably is.

The paper at the source of these reports follows in the steps of previous speculative studies that use loose extrapolations to shock us, but have little basis in reality.

First off, let’s remember that we are surrounded by endocrine active substances. Natural substances like soy, carrots, garlic, or coffee all have endocrine active properties. Suggesting that our society bears a cost from these endocrine active substances is a bit of a stretch.

It’s true that the study’s numbers make headlines. Media outlets, from CNN to Reuters, were quick to report on the fact that health costs allegedly linked to exposure amount to more than 2.3% of the US’ Gross Domestic Product. But do these numbers actually tell us something valuable?

This is not the first time that this team of researchers, lead by Dr. Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, claims to calculate the costs to society from low-level but daily exposure to alleged hazardous chemicals. Similar studies were published in 2014 for the US and the EU, and in 2015 for the EU; in all these studies, the evidence put forward is tenuous to say the least.



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