The Shift in Human Health from Infection-Related Diseases to Chronic Illnesses and the Importance of Indoor Chemical Exposure

  • Carl-Gustaf BornehagEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 64)


It has been recently estimated that the pattern of the global burden of diseases – expressed as disability-adjusted life years (DALY) – has changed over the last 20 years and a shift from communicable disorders to noncommunicable disorders has been observed. This shift is more pronounced in high-income countries. Even though there is lack of knowledge regarding the cause(s) behind the increase in chronic diseases/disorders, there are scientifically based suspicions that environmental factors do play an important role in interaction with genetic predisposition. Especially diffuse emissions of endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDCs) from consumer products are a matter of concern. The four reasons for concern with human EDC exposure are:
  • The low-dose effect and a non-monotonic dose-response relationship

  • Early life sensitivity and the persistency of effects

  • The large number of EDC sources in our daily life

  • The wide range of health effects

A full chain model is proposed which is following chemicals from their sources over environmental exposures in food, air, and dust over to human uptake and finally to human health effects. The model also includes modifying factors for environmental exposures, different pathways for human uptake, and biological mechanisms involved in health effects. With scientific information in this model risk management should be possible and result in preventive actions in order to reduce children’s exposure to health relevant factors.


Chronic disorders Consumer products Endocrine disrupting chemicals Indoor chemical exposure Phthalates Bisphenol A 



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder


Autism spectrum disorders


Butyl benzyl phthalate


Bisphenol A


Disability-adjusted life years


Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate




Di-iso-butyl phthalate


Di-iso-decyl phthalate


Di-iso-nonyl phthalate


Di-n-butyl phthalate


Di-n-octyl phthalate


Endocrine-disrupting compounds


Human immunodeficiency virus


Noncommunicable disease


Perfluorinated chemicals


Perfluorooctanoic acid


Perfluorooctane sulfonate


Poly vinyl chloride


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health SciencesKarlstad UniversitySE-651 88Sweden

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