Environmental Toxins Cost Billions in Childhood Disease

TIME The Healthland, May 4, 2011

Back in 2002, Philip Landrigan and a team of other researchers at Mount Sinai Medical School estimated the annual cost of four childhood conditions — lead poisoning, cancer, developmental disabilities and asthma — that could be connected to environmental factors. The numbers were surprising: Landrigan estimated that the environmental factors cost as much as $54.8 billion, or about 2.8% of total U.S. health care spending in 1997, the year the study drew from.

The conclusions were obvious — environmental pollution and toxins were a significant drag on the economy, and there was an economic case to be made for reducing childhood exposure…In a new study in Health Affairs, Trasande and Liu have included autism and attention deficit disorder in the mix, and they now estimate that environmental disease in children costs some $76.6 billion. “That’s over 3% of total health care costs,” says Trasande. “The environment has become a major part of childhood disease.”

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