What can you do to protect yourself from potentially dangerous chemicals called endocrine disruptors?
There are up to 100,000 chemicals in use in the U.S. today. Many of them are found in products we use every day – plastic bottles, metal cans, detergents, flame retardants, cosmetics, fragrances, furniture, toys, pesticides, and even food. Some of them cause endocrine disruption and are called endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors affect our health by altering our hormones. These chemicals may impact the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal glands, gonads as well as other hormone regulating or producing organs. As such, endocrine disruptors can have an effect on obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, neuro- development effects, neuro-degeneration, and a range of cancers. Fertility is an especially sensitive life stage that may be uniquely vulnerable to the effects of endocrine disruptors.
A comprehensive report on the link between endocrine disruptors and fertility was published by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013. The publication revealed that chemicals in our environment affect male and female fertility. Some examples of chemicals that are thought to cause disruption to our sexual hormonal processes are:
A recent Denmark University study from 2016 found that some filters used in sunscreens to absorb ultraviolet (UV) light could be causing male infertility by stopping sperm from functioning properly. Other related studies have found a link between BPA and lower sperm count. These chemicals happen to be present in products like soap, toothpaste, and plastic toys.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
The following are 8 tips for preventing and avoiding endocrine-disrupting chemicals exposure and intake:
1. Wash your hands
Washing your hands frequently with fragrance-free and non-antibacterial soaps will help remove any chemical residue. Always wash hands before you eat.
2. Vacuum and dust your home often
Research shows that flame retardant chemicals escape from electronics, couches, and baby products. Keeping your house vacuumed and dusted will reduce your exposure to chemicals that can accumulate in your home. Use a vacuum with a (HEPA) filter to trap particles of dust instead of blowing them around your house.
3. Refrain from using fragrances
Many fragrances such as perfumes and colognes use a proprietary mix of hundreds of ingredients. One of those chemical, phthalates, disrupts hormones. Other products on the market that have fragrances are creams, cleaning products, and laundry detergents. Use fragrance-free products as much as possible. Also, look for natural ways of freshening your home like open windows, fans, and flowers.
4. Try to avoid plastics
It might be impossible to avoid all plastic, but try to reduce the use of plastic. Some plastics contain hormone-disrupting chemicals such as BPA and flexible vinyl (PVC #3) that contain phthalates. Take the time to research and look for safer natural alternatives. Use reusable products like water bottles and beeswax-coated cloth instead of plastic wrap.
5. Avoid cans
Canned foods are lined with BPA. Choose fresh, frozen, or dried foods instead.
6. Eat organic foods as much as possible
Pesticides have been linked to hormone disruption. Try to eat organic food as much as possible. Avoid food packaging and stick to stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
7. Filter your tap water
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Drinking Water Project, tap water contains potential hormone disruptors. Use a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)-certified water filter to decrease the intake level of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
8. Go with green cleaning products
Cleaning products are laced with unhealthy pollutants. Since manufacturers are not required to list ingredients on their labels, it’s hard to know what’s inside exactly. Buy from companies that voluntarily list their ingredients on their products and look for the Safer Choice label.
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