While it has been acknowledged that exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) is associated with human diseases, the overall disease burden attributable to the exposure to a specific EDC has rarely been evaluated. Based on existing models for assessing probabilities of causation and a comprehensive review of available data, we analyzed the burden of three diseases, i.e., male infertility, adult obesity, and diabetes, among the general Chinese population resulting from exposure to phthalates. Our estimation indicates that exposure to phthalates is associated with ~2.50 million cases of the three diseases across China in 2010, causing ~57.2 billion Chinese Yuan (equivalent to ~9 billion US dollars) of health care costs in a year. Male infertility has the largest number of cases, followed by adult obesity and diabetes. Based on these phthalate-specific estimates, we further estimated that the total disease cost due to exposure to the overall EDCs amounted to ~429.43 billion Chinese Yuan in China in 2010, accounting for 1.07% of nationwide gross domestic product (GDP). When comparing our results with an earlier estimate for the European Union (EU) member countries, we find that exposure to phthalates leads to quite a similar disease burden per unit of GDP in both regions. Our study illustrates the considerable socio-economic impact of EDC exposure on human society, implying the imperative need for global risk reduction actions on EDCs, especially in view of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Recent studies have revealed that wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are an important source of fluorotelomer alcohols (FTOHs) in the environment. However, it remains unclear whether volatilization to the atmosphere or discharge with wastewater effluent into receiving water bodies is the dominant pathway through which FTOHs enter the environment; it also remains unclear how the relative importance of these two emission pathways varies among seasons and homologs. Here, we estimated the emissions of 6:2 and 8:2 FTOHs through these two pathways from a typical WWTP in Beijing, China, by measuring height-dependent air concentrations above the wastewater surface; we also measured wastewater concentrations among the four annual seasons. Our results showed that atmospheric emissions dominate total annual FTOH emissions, but are not dominant in every single season. Emission to the aquatic environment is dominant during seasons with less wind (i.e., summer and fall). While the abundance of 6:2 FTOH has increased in recent years, 8:2 FTOH remains the major FTOH homolog released into the environment in China. This study provides comprehensive information regarding FTOH emissions from WWTPs to the environment and practical guidance for future monitoring practices.
Decabromodiphenyl ethane (DBDPE) is an alternative to the commercial decabromodiphenyl ether (deca-BDE) mixture but has potentially similar persistence, bioaccumulation potential and toxicity. While it is widely used as a flame retardant in electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) in China, DBDPE could be distributed globally on a large scale with the international trade of EEE emanating from China. Here, we performed a dynamic substance flow analysis to estimate the time-dependent mass flows, stocks and emissions of DBDPE in China, and the global spread of DBDPE originating in China through the international trade of EEE and e-waste. Our analysis indicates that, between 2006 and 2016, ∼230 thousand tonnes (kt) of DBDPE were produced in China; production, use and disposal activities led to the release of 196 tonnes of DBDPE to the environment. By the end of 2016, ∼152 kt of the DBDPE produced resided in in-use products across China. During the period 2000–2016, ∼39 kt of DBDPE were exported from China in EEE products, most of which (>50%) ended up in North America. Based on projected trends of China's DBDPE production, use and EEE exports, we predict that, by 2026, ∼74 and ∼14 kt of DBDPE originating in China will reside in in-use and waste stocks, respectively, in regions other than mainland China, which will act as long-term emission sources of DBDPE worldwide. This study discusses the considerable impact of DBDPE originating in China and distributed globally through the international trade of EEE; this is projected to occur on a large scale in the near future, which necessitates countermeasures.
While short-chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) comprise a myriad of components whose physicochemical properties are extremely diverse, many previous studies characterized the SCCP mixtures collectively using a single set of physicochemical properties when modeling the global environmental fate and risk. In this work, we explore whether a discrepancy exists between simulations based on a single set of physicochemical properties and multiple component-specific ones in global fate and risk modeling, and the environmental condition (e.g., proximity to emission source vs. temperature) in which such a discrepancy is most notable. We simulated the environmental concentrations and compartmental distribution of SCCPs, using a mechanistic fugacity-based multimedia BETR-Global model. We observed a discrepancy between modeled concentrations based on a single and multiple sets of properties, which is more notable in regions with a low temperature and negligible emissions, e.g., the remote and cold background Arctic region. The modeled compartmental distribution differs slightly between simulations based on different sets of physicochemical properties. While using a single set of properties minimizes input data required for model-based evaluation of the risk of SCCPs, it tends to underestimate the environmental occurrence and risk in remote and cold regions, which are vulnerable and hence deserve a more conservative evaluation conclusion, and prevents us from drawing conclusions on which SCCP component is of greatest concern. The current work can be a relevant step towards improving the methodology for global environmental modeling and risk assessment of SCCPs and other complex halogenated chemical mixtures.