Mainstream household products often contain powerful hormone disruptors. Is your health at risk?
I have a riddle for you: What do nonstick pans, corn, plastic kids’ toys, and lipstick tubes all have in common? Each could be hiding something called endocrine disruptors–potentially toxic chemicals that can interfere with your body’s endocrine system.
How do they interfere? Any way you can imagine! These chemicals can increase or decrease, block, or imitate certain hormones; even change how these hormones work in your body, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Endocrine disruptors can harm the body’s neurological, immune, reproductive, and developmental systems, according to the NIEHS. These chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health issues, including fertility problems, low sex drive, kidney disease, and birth defects.
There are 12 chemical compounds you can avoid to limit your exposure–the Environmental Working Group calls these “The Dirty Dozen” of endocrine disruptors.
- Bisphenol A
- It is a chemical that mimics estrogen and is used to make plastics in resins.
- You can find it inside the lining of canned goods, most thermal paper used for receipts, and polycarbonate plastics marked with recycling label No. 7.
- Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCS)
- These are chemicals added to nonstick cookware, clothing, upholstery, tents, and more for their water repellent ability and resisting stains. One compound, perfluorooctanoic acid, is completely nonbiodegradable and has been linked to kidney disease, low sperm count, thyroid disease, and other illnesses.
- You can find them in water-resistant clothing, furniture, and some nonstick pans.
- It is an herbacide used on corn crops that has been linked to the feminization of male frogs.
- You find it in corn products and drinking water.
- It is a toxic chemical that disrupts with the hormones cortisol and insulin; linked to skin, bladder, and lung cancer.
- You find it in drinking water and processed foods.
- These are plastic-softening chemicals that have been linked to premature death of testicular cells. The National Toxicology Program warns that one type of phthalate may damage human development, while another type is likely to be a human carcinogen.
- You can find phthalates in plastic food containers, plastic toys, and some personal care products.
- Fire Retardants
- These are chemicals that are used to make products less flammable, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). Some can imitate thyroid hormones.
- You find them in some foam furniture, house dust, and carpet padding.
- Lead is a heavy metal that is linked to decreased levels of sex hormones, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriages, and premature birth.
- You can find lead in older paints and pipes and drinking water.
- Organophosphate Pesticides
- They are pesticides toxic to the nervous systems of insects and have also been linked to decreased testosterone and altered thyroid hormones in humans.
- You can find these pesticides in most conventionally farmed produce.
- Mercury is a toxic metal that can build up in the fetal brain and interfere with development; it also binds to hormones that regulate menstruation.
- You can find mercury in some fish, such as shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tuna.
- This is a chemical formed during manufacturing that has the potential to disrupt sex hormones; if you are exposed early in life,dioxin can also decrease sperm quality and quantity.
- You may find it hiding in animal products including meat, fish, milk, and eggs.
- This is a chemical used in rocket fuel that becomes airborne and can interfere with thyroid hormones.
- You can find it in drinking water, produce, and milk.
- Glycol Ethers
- These are solvents that the European Union says can damage fertility; studies have also shown that workers who are exposed have lower sperm counts.
- You can find them in paints, cleaning products, and cosmetics.
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