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, published in a series of papers March 5, 2015 in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, were announced that day in Brussels and at the Society’s annual meeting in San Diego.

“The shocking thing is that the major component of that cost is related to the loss of brain function in the next generation,” study co-author 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, said in a March 6, 2015 article in the UK newspaper The Guardian. 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.

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