Before I get started on this topic, I just want to let you all know that the intention behind this blog post ( and all others concerning your health ) is to simply provide knowledge. When I first learnt about endocrine disrupting chemicals - and how many everyday items they are in, I felt super overwhelmed. This was one of the reasons I began my original instagram; called Holistically Living, to show people 'non toxic' versions of these products. I hope to be able to provide you with not only the information about endocrine disrupting products, but also give you alternatives you can use instead. If you want any extra help with reading labels, or would like more product recommendations and recipes - leave me a comment below.
To begin, let's recall what the endocrine system actually is. Essentially it is a network of glands that produce hormones - think your thyroid, pancreas, pineal gland, adrenals, hypothalamus, and ovaries (testes in males). Each of these glands, and their hormones plays a different role in your body. As a general overview, they are responsible for all the stages of development including reproduction, as well as regulating metabolism, sleep, mood, plus tissue and sexual function.
How these chemicals affect us:
As the name 'endocrine disruptor' would suggest, these chemicals interfere with the glands and hormones within the endocrine system. Depending on the particular substance, your hormone production may be increased or decreased, and as a result affect all of the functions listed in the above section. Endocrine disruptor's have been linked to cancers, infertility, cognitive disorders, thyroid diseases, birth defects and more. Looking at this topic from a naturopathic perspective, removing these chemicals from our life, or avoiding them the best we can relates to our first aspect of the therapeutic order - Establish the Foundations of Health. We do this by removing any obstacles to health, and establishing the basics.
The most common endocrine disrupting chemicals and what you'll find them in:
(Bisphenol A) BPA:
found in certain plastics and resins, receipts, food packing and in the lining of canned foods (which can leach out when heated). BPA has been linked to fertility issues, early puberty, breast and other cancers, and obesity.
To reduce exposure:
Go for fresh, unwrapped foods instead of canned if possible. If you still want to use canned foods research which companies use BPA in the lining, and ensure you remove the food from the can before heating it up.
Say no to receipts.
Avoid plastic containers, drink bottles etc. While many new plastics are saying they are BPA free they often still have other chemicals with similar effects on the endocrine system. Opt instead for glass containers, drink bottles etc. If you do use plastic containers for your lunch do not microwave the food in it as it can leach out further into the food.
Found in electronics, insulation, foam cushions, furniture, mattresses, and baby car seats. Flame retardants have been linked to cancer, attention and IQ deficits in children, and hormone disruption. As flame retardants are 'added' to products and not bound to them, the chemicals are released into indoor air and dust. They can be inhaled, absorbed through the skin and ingested.
To reduce exposure:
Again looking at labels of household products / items before you purchase them - make sure they are made without flame retardants.
Wash your hands, especially before eating to help remove the toxic particles in the air and dust. This can be especially important for baby if they put their fingers / hands in their mouths.
Be sure to vacuum and wipe surfaces frequently to remove dust that may have these toxic particles in it.
Be careful if replacing old carpets as the padding may contain flame retardants.
This is a group of fluorinated compounds, and there are more than 4700 chemicals. Links have been associated with cancer, developmental defects, weakened immune system, thyroid disease, and some still have unknown effects. These are found in cookware - think non stick, grease resistant products. They are also found in carpets, furniture, waterproof clothing, and food packaging. This group of chemicals is also found in our drinking water.
To reduce exposure:
Opt for non toxic cookware brands - I've been using Xtrema cookware (not sponsored I just love their products !). Kitchen utensils can contain PFAS as well, so use wooden instead.
Avoid fast foods - even microwaveable popcorn, as the wrappers / bags are coated with PFAS. (Pop your popcorn on the stove)
Don't use stain repellent treatments - ie. for carpet, shoes, furniture. These coatings are made with PFAS.
Get a 'reverse osmosis' water filter - these are said to be the best at removing PFAS.
Interferes with the thyroid gland by competing with iodine (which the thyroid needs to make it's hormones). These hormones are critical for organ and brain development in babies and young children, and are also responsible for metabolism regulation in adults.
This chemical may be hard to avoid as it is found in our water, which is used to water our food crops. Even when buying organic this chemical can't be avoided in foods, unless they use rain water to grow their crops. The main thing you can do is help your thyroid gland out by ensuring you are getting enough iodine in your diet.
To reduce exposure through your own drinking water, the reverse osmosis filter is the best option.
Found in 'fragrance', toys, PVC plastic and plastic wrap. Phthalates have been linked to birth defects in the male reproductive system, gestational diabetes, miscarriages, lower sperm count and motility.
To reduce exposure:
Avoid plastic - food containers, children's toys and plastic wrap. Opt instead for the glass containers, wooden toys, and beeswax wraps.
Go non toxic with your products - from skincare and makeup to laundry detergent and floor wash. Even things like diapers or bin liners can have fragrance added, so be sure to read your ingredients list before purchasing.
An herbicide currently still used in Australia and America, though it has been banned since 2003 in Europe. Atrazine has been linked to childhood leukemia, parkinsons disease, breast tumors, delayed puberty, prostate inflammation and prostate cancer in some cases.
To reduce your exposure:
Buy organic produce
Get a water filter that also removes atrazine
Once again, I just want to remind you that this post is not here to scare you or make you feel anxious. In order to best avoid these chemicals we need to know what they are in, so I hope that this little guide will be helpful for you. Please also know that this is not an extensive list.. there are many more harmful chemicals found in our everyday items - which is why we just need to do the best we can. The main things you can do are, eat organic, get a water filter (research before you buy as to what it actually filters), only use toxic free products - that means in the house, on your skin, for your children etc and stay away from all kinds of plastic.
Hope you're all doing well.