A recently published study set out to quantify the monetary health-related costs caused by plastics – and the findings are shocking. The study concluded that materials and chemicals used in plastic creation accounted for roughly $249 billion in attributable disease burden in 2018. Moreover, the disease and associated social costs in the U.S. account for 1.22% of our gross domestic product. The public health costs of plastic pollution will continue to increase as long as exposures continue at current levels. Keep reading to learn more about the study.

A New Twist on an Old Tale

While the harm of plastics has been studied for some time, the study’s researchers are hoping that tying a monetary amount to the damage caused will start more discussions about the use of plastics and the related health risks.

Just Scratching the Surface

The research analyzed the impact of four groups of chemicals used in the production of plastic products. However, these are just a fraction of the chemicals used to make plastics. Of the more than 16,000 chemicals used in plastic creation, over than 3,000 are known to have hazardous properties and close to 10,000 lack sufficient data on their impact to public health.

Potential Solutions

The study concluded that the Global Plastics Treaty, which is a resolution endorsed by Heads of State and Environment Ministers from 175 countries at the United Nations Environment Assembly, should move reduce the use of hazardous chemicals, particularly PFAS, BPA and BPS, bisphenols, flame retardants and phthalates. The benefits to these reductions would be substantial, as reduced chemical exposures will lead to savings in health care costs due to lower disease burdens.