The chemicals used in the manufacture of some consumer goods may be causing health problems, according to a new study published by the Environmental Working Group.
Researchers at Duke University, University of Michigan and the University of Maryland analyzed the chemical composition of more than 4,000 chemicals used by the chemical industry and found that about half were more likely to be linked to adverse health effects than previously believed.
In addition, more than one-third of the chemicals they analyzed were more toxic than previously estimated, the researchers found.
The new study was conducted by a group of scientists from Duke, the University and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Their work is the first to use data from a comprehensive chemical industry chemical database to determine the extent of the problem.
The chemicals in question are used in consumer products such as shampoo and toothpaste, and in some cases in foods and beverages, such as milk, soda and juices.
The Duke team, including lead author and assistant professor of environmental sciences James R. Miller, looked at more than 500 chemicals that have been approved by the U; EPA, which regulates the chemical manufacturing industry, and the USDA.
They found that at least 40% of the materials they analyzed had been linked to elevated levels of the carcinogen benzene, a known carcinogen, or to elevated rates of lung cancer, leukemia and other cancers.
While it is difficult to definitively link all of these chemicals to increased cancer rates, the team notes that many are highly toxic and carcinogenic, and many of them have been shown to have significant impacts on human health.
While the chemicals analyzed were not all linked to cancer, the authors of the study conclude that the chemicals in some categories are, and can be, causing increased cancer risk.
The researchers concluded that these chemicals, even if not all are causing cancer, may pose a threat to human health and the environment.
The study is published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.
The authors note that benzene is a known and growing cancer-causing substance that has been linked in recent years to an increased risk of lung and bladder cancer in men.
Other chemicals in the study that were linked to increased risk included polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which were shown to cause cancer in animals; polychlorination products, which are used to make plastics and in plastics manufacturing; perfluorinated compounds, which can cause skin and respiratory irritation; and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)s, which have been linked by researchers to bladder and skin cancer in people.
The researchers also found that the amount of benzene in some of the pesticides they analyzed was associated with increased cancer risks.
For example, the amount and concentration of benzenes found in pesticides used in many food, household, industrial and agricultural products were significantly higher than the levels found in non-food products, such the pesticides used to manufacture plastics, in many cases in excess of levels found by the EPA.
The chemical composition also showed that some of these pesticides may be carcinogenic in humans.
The EPA has recently made some strides in reducing the use of pesticides in the United States.
In 2014, the agency launched a plan to eliminate all the use by 2020 of many chemicals in consumer and industrial products.
But the agency has not yet made a determination on whether to take further steps.