Petrochemicals Are Killing Us, a New Report Warns in Top Medical Journal

"It’s well known that fossil fuels are the primary driver of climate change. A dirty secret is that they’re also the source of toxic chemicals linked to rising rates of chronic and deadly diseases."

"Use of petroleum-based chemicals skyrocketed during the postwar era, most of them entering the market with little concern for safety. Now, mounting evidence links petrochemicals to the rapidly rising prevalence of a slew of chronic and deadly conditions, a review published in the New England Journal of Medicine warned earlier this month.

Petrochemical production is 15 times higher today than it was in the 1950s, with about 350,000 chemicals now approved for use globally. Yet only 5 percent of these compounds have undergone rigorous safety tests—even as the rates of numerous ailments they’re linked to continue to rise.

“You can feel the effects of climate change, and know they’re connected to fossil fuels,” said author Tracey Woodruff, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco who directs the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment. “But the idea that fossil fuels are also connected to these chemicals we’re exposed to, and are impacting our health, I thought, wow, there’s a really important link here.”

Phasing out fossil fuels, Woodruff realized, wouldn’t just benefit the planet. It would also reduce the heavy toll hormone-scrambling petrochemicals are taking on health, particularly in low-income communities of color."

Liza Gross reports for Inside Climate News March 18, 2024.

Source: Inside Climate News, 03/21/2024