Chemicals in plastic food containers, cosmetics may lead to more than 100,000 premature deaths in U.S. every year: study

·2 min read

Daily exposure to chemicals found in hundreds of widely available consumer products in the United States may lead to around 100,000 premature deaths every year in older adults, a new study found.

The synthetic chemicals, called phthalates, have been widely used for more than 50 years and they can be found in the manufacturing of plastic food containers, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and even the coating of some medications.

On Tuesday, researchers at NYU’s Grossman School of Medicine published the findings of a study that looked at the effects of exposure to the so-called “hormone disrupter” chemical on more than 5,000 adults between the ages of 55 and 64.

The research was designed to examine links between phthalate exposure and deaths of all causes in the U.S. and quantify the resulting economic costs.

“Our findings reveal that increased phthalate exposure is linked to early death, particularly due to heart disease,” the study’s lead author, Dr. Leonardo Trasande, said in a statement.

“Until now, we have understood that the chemicals connect to heart disease, and heart disease in turn is a leading cause of death, but we had not yet tied the chemicals themselves to death,” he added.

The economic burden of the deaths could be between $40 billion to $47 billion annually, a value more than quadruple that of previous estimates, according to the study in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution.

“Our research suggests that the toll of this chemical on society is much greater than we first thought,” Trasande, a professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Health, noted. “The evidence is undeniably clear that limiting exposure to toxic phthalates can help safeguard Americans’ physical and financial well-being.”

“This study adds to the growing database on the impact of plastics on the human body and bolsters public health and business cases for reducing or eliminating the use of plastics,” added Trasande.

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