Environmentally-induced conditions are driving up healthcare costs

Childhood health degraded by poor environmental conditions is costing the healthcare system tens of billions of dollars a year, according to a new study published in the May edition of the journal Health Affairs.

The study concluded that the annual cost of medical conditions linked to environmentally induced illnesses is $76.6 billion a year in 2008, up from $54.9 billion a year in 1997. Among the priciest of conditions are lead poisoning, at $50.9 billion per year, and exposure to mercury, at $5.1 billion per year.

"Left unchecked, these preventable environmental factors will continue to harm the health of our children and push up healthcare costs," Leonardo Trasande, the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine professor of preventive medicine who is lead author of the study, said in a statement.

"By updating environmental regulations and laws aimed at protecting the public's health, we can reduce the toll taken by such factors on children's health and the economy," he said.

For more:
- here's Health Affairs press release
- read the study