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Burden of Disease Attributed to PFAS Exposure High in the U.S.

Estimated cost of PFAS-attributable disease at least $5.52 billion annually

MONDAY, Aug. 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The economic burden associated with exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the United States is at least $5.52 billion annually, according to a study published online July 26 in Exposure and Health.

Noting that a growing body of evidence confirms the contribution of PFAS to disease burden and disability across the lifespan, Vladislav Obsekov, M.D., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues quantified disease burdens and related economic costs due to legacy PFAS exposures in the United States in 2018. The perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)- and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)-attributable increases in 13 conditions were calculated and applied to census data to determine the total annual PFOA- and PFOS-attributable cases of disease, from which economic costs due to medical care and lost productivity were calculated.

The researchers found that PFAS-attributable disease costs were $5.52 billion across five primary disease end points shown in meta-analyses to be associated with PFAS exposure. In sensitivity analyses, this estimate could be as much as $62.6 billion in overall costs.

“Our results strongly support the recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to lower the safe allowable level of these substances in water,” a coauthor said in a statement. “Based on our estimates, the cost of eradicating contamination and replacing this class of chemical with safer alternatives is ultimately justified when considering the tremendous economic and medical risks of allowing them to persist in the environment.”

One author disclosed financial ties to industry.

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