A few weeks ago we introduced to you The Environmental Working Group’s guide to choosing seafood. But another great resource they have available is their guide to the top 12 endocrine disrupting chemicals in our environment.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals which act like, and take the place of, hormones in our bodies. They can throw our sex hormones out of balance, and even cause serious diseases such as cancer. They are very prevalent in our daily lives and come in some surprising places. Below is a summary of the top 4 of the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors with examples of what they do, where they are found, and how you can avoid them. For the full list, please visit the EWG’s website: http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
What: Bisphenol A hit the media a few years ago when it was discovered to be in the bodies of 93% of Americans. BPA mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to breast cancer, obesity, early puberty, reproductive problems and heart disease.
Where: Legislation passed limiting its use in baby bottles, however it can still be found in many common everyday items: Various hard plastic containers, lining of tin cans, dental composites and receipts (cash, ATM, airline tickets). A recent study showed that you are more likely to absorb BPA from a receipt if you have just applied hand sanitizer, lotion or sunscreen (they contain chemicals to enhance absorption), and that if you then consume food with your hands afterward you can absorb significant amounts of BPA!
Avoid: Skip taking receipts especially if you have any product on your skin, avoid plastics labelled #7 or PC (polycarbonate), replace your plastic food containers with glass containers.
Go A Step Further: Skip take-out containers and bring your own glass containers when you pick-up your food
What: A by-product of industrial processes which disrupts both female and male sex hormones; they can lead to lowered sperm count and quality.
Where: These pesky chemical accumulate in the environment and the bodies of animals stored in fat.
Avoid: Meat, fish, eggs and dairy will all contain dioxins, cut down on exposure by consuming fewer of these items.
Go A Step Further: Go vegan!
What: A pesticide which routinely contaminates ground water and consequently drinking water. It is linked to delayed puberty, prostate inflammation and cancer, as well as breast tumors
Where: Widely used on corn crops in Canada and the US, banned in the EU
Avoid: Do not consume non-organic corn. Also, have your drinking water tested especially if you live in a rural area.
Go A Step Further: Purchase a water filtration system (EWG has a guide for this, see link below)
What: A hormone disrupting chemical that tells your cells to die prematurely! They affect testicular cells primarily and can lead to lowered sperm count and mobility, birth defects of the male reproductive organs, obesity, thyroid irregularities and diabetes.
Where: Plastic wrap (PVC), recyclables labelled #3, plastic food containers, children’s toys (!!), and most commonly, any personal care product which is scented; from deodorant to perfume to shampoo.
Avoid: Go natural with your personal care products (EWG has a guide for that as well!), ditch the plastic food containers and use glass instead, use a natural parchment paper instead of plastic wrap, and avoid plastic children’s toys.
Go A Step Further: Mix your own perfume by purchasing aromatherapy essential oils from your local health food store, not only will they be non-toxic, but they will have added health benefits as well!
Unfortunately the list doesn’t stop here! To view the full list visit the Environmental Working Groups website: http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
For a guide to purchasing natural cosmetics check out their Skin Deep Guide, they also have a mobile app for checking products on the go: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
For a guide to choosing the right water filtration system for your home: http://www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide
Bisphenol A & Thermal Receipt Paper Study: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110509