Researchers urge doctors to test patients for chemicals forever

Physicians should forever test millions of Americans for toxic chemicals, the nation’s leading scientific advisory body urges in a new report that reflects growing concerns about unregulated compounds added to clothing, food packaging and household products .

a panel of researchers organized by National Academy of Sciences concluded that pregnant women and other vulnerable groups should be screened for breast cancer, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure when the amount of chemicals in their blood exceeds 2 parts per billion, the perpetual amount of water in a swimming pool. Equal to one or two drops.

Every American with more than 20 ppb in his blood should also be screened for signs of other diseases, including thyroid disorders, kidney and testicular cancers and ulcerative colitis, panel members said Thursday in their recommendations To Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

That same week came new guidelines for the nation’s doctors. Another group of researchers speculated that exposure to chemicals — also known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances or PFAS – could Current US population cost Nearly $63 billion in hidden health costs.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there are over 9,000 PFASs, of which about 600 are in commerce today. The chemicals have been widely used for decades in fire-fighting foams and to make products such as nonstick cookware, stain-repellent carpets, waterproof jackets and fast-food wrappers that repel oils and grease.

Blood tests are recommended for anyone exposed during work or living in communities with documented sources of PFAS contamination. Others are advised to get tested if they live near airports, military bases, sewage treatment plants or not farms where sewage sludge May have been used as manure. According to a National Academy panel, living near landfills or waste incinerators increases the risk of exposure to chemicals forever.

Based on the latest human and animal research, “we feel closer to 2 (parts per billion) less likely to adversely affect people’s health, and closer to 20 (ppb) more likely.” Ned said. Calonz, chair of the panel and a physician, epidemiologist, and associate professor of family medicine at the University of Colorado.

The CDC determined in the late 2000s that nearly every American has chemicals in their blood forever. But routine testing is still rare. Most people don’t realize how much PFAS is flowing through their circulatory system unless they work for chemical manufacturers who regularly monitor employees.

Two of the most widely found chemicals of all time – perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – are so dangerous that there are effectively no safe level of risk in drinking water, the EPA announced in June.

An ongoing Greeley Tribune investigation this month revealed that more than 8 million people in Illinois — 6 out of every 10 in the state — get their drinking water from a utility where At least one forever chemical has been detected, PFOA and PFOS are in the water of almost every community where the chemicals were found in testing by the Illinois EPA.

“The entire US population is susceptible to these toxic PFAS,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist environmental working group, a non-profit research organization that has advocated for federal regulations since the early 2000s. “Clinicians should advise their patients to minimize exposure to these chemicals as much as possible – a difficult feat, as they are ubiquitous.”

It will almost certainly take time and much debate before testing people for PFAS becomes common.

Spokesmen for Northwestern Medicine and the University of Chicago Medicine said they were unaware of any physicians in their network who are testing patients for the chemicals. The Chicago-based American Medical Association did not respond to a request for comment.

During the National Academy of Sciences’ public forums held across the country last year, several participants said that physicians scoffed at being asked about the PFAS test.

“Clearly they had no idea about the environmental components[of the disease],” said a Pennsylvania woman at one forum. “They made me feel small; They made me feel stupid and embarrassed for asking questions.”

Minnesota-based 3M, one of the leading manufacturers of PFAS, has known since 1975 that trace chemicals were forever blood bank Around the United States, according to industry records exposed during the lawsuits.

Regulators and the public were kept in the dark until 1998, when a 3M executive First reported to US EPA That PFAS used to manufacture the company’s Scotchgard coatings, and Teflon, made by DuPont, builds up in human blood, takes years to leave the body and doesn’t break down in the environment.

PFOA and PFOS are no longer made in the US. A 3M spokesperson said in a statement that the levels of PFAS found in the environment do not pose a risk to humans.

Based on what researchers have found, chemicals 3M, DuPont and other manufacturers have released into the air, water and land for more than 70 years could endanger public health for decades to come. Few replacements for PFOA and PFOS are just as dangerous, if not more, studies have found.

A team of researchers at New York University Estimated cost of PFOA and PFOS exposure By incorporating the most scientifically rigorous disease studies into a computer model that calculates the cost of medical care and wages lost due to illness.

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He based the low end of his estimates — $5.5 billion — on the strongest link between risk and disease. When they added up the research suggesting other health harms caused by the chemicals forever, the estimated cost rose to $62.6 billion.

“This is a huge uncontrolled experiment on the public,” said Leo Trasande, a researcher at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine and senior author of the study, of the spread of PFAS around the world.

Left unanswered by both new studies is what pays for testing, treatment and cleaning.

Cincinnati attorney Rob Billott has already entered into PFAS legal settlements against DuPont in Ohio and West Virginia. Now he is among a group of trial lawyers suing 3M, DuPont and other manufacturers in an effort to force the companies to pay. medical surveillance Every American is forever exposed to chemicals.

In March, a federal judge narrowed the case to Ohio residents with a specific amount of chemicals in their blood, which alone could contain as many as 11 million people. Chemical companies are appealing against this decision.

Billot said in an email, “The public — those of us who have been exposed to these poisons for decades without our knowledge and consent — should not bear the cost of the public health impacts when we already know which companies have made it.” created a problem.” “It is time to hold those responsible for the public health disaster.”

mhawthorne@chicagotribune.com

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