“It costs a “staggering” $76.6 billion to cover the health expenses of American children who were sick because of exposure to toxic chemicals and air pollutants in 2008″; this is as contained in a recent study conducted by researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The study which did not cover costs of all escalating childhood diseases that may have environmental contributors (eg diabetes and obesity), was published in the May issue of the Journal “Health Affairs”. This is an updated version of the study conducted by Mt. Sinai in 1997. The three new studies revealed the economic impact of toxic chemicals and air pollutants in the environment, and proposed new legislation to require testing of new chemicals as well as those already on the market.
It was observed by the researchers that this amount was 3.5% of the nation’s total health-care costs that year, compared with 2.8% in 1997. They examined the cost of childhood cancer and chronic conditions such as asthma, autism, attention deficit disorder, and intellectual disability linked at least in part to toxins and contaminants in the water, air, soil and food, as well as in homes and neighbourhoods.
In one of the studies, Leonardo Trasande, MD, associate professor of preventive medicine and paediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and his team calculated the annual cost for direct medical care and the indirect costs, such as parents’ lost work days, and lost economic productivity caring for their children, of these diseases in children.
Among the main findings:
Childhood cancer cost $95 million.
Lead poisoning cost $50.9 billion.
Autism cost $7.9 billion.
Intellectual disability cost $5.4 billion.
Exposure to mercury (methyl mercury) cost $5.1 billion.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cost $5 billion.
Asthma cost $2.2 billion.
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