Endocrine disruptors are nasty chemicals that you don’t really want in your home but are likely hiding there anyway. There are ways to avoid them though.
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with your endocrine system. The endocrine glands include the thyroid, parathyroid, hypothalamus, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, gastrointestinal tract, and adrenal glands. Endocrine disruptors can cause adverse reproductive, neurological developmental and immune effects. These risks are especially high during prenatal and early postnatal development.
Endocrine disruptors are found in most of our homes. The Environmental Working Group has created a Dirty Dozen list to help us avoid the worst offenders.
Here are some places you may find the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and how to avoid them.
12 Endocrine Disruptors to Avoid
Found in: Canned food, some plastics, and receipts.
How to Avoid: Choose fresh food over canned, avoid plastics (especially those marked “PC” or with recycling label #7), and say no to receipts.
Found in: Many industrial processes. The American food supply is widely contaminated. Chlorine bleach also forms dioxin after conbined with organic compounds. Triclosan, the commonly used antibacterial agent in cleaners and soaps, degrades into dioxin. Bleached paper products like diapers, napkins, tissues, and paper towels can also contain dioxin.
How to Avoid: Eat fewer animal products, avoid bleach and bleached paper products, and don’t buy products containing triclosan.
Found in: It’s widely used on corn crops in the United States. It has also ended up in a lot of our water.
How to Avoid: Buy organic produce and get a drinking water filter that is certified to remove atrazine.
Found in: Some plastic food containers, children’s toys (some phthalates are banned from kid’s products), plastic wrap made from PVC, PVC products which have the recycling label #3, and personal care products that contain “fragrance.”
How to Avoid: Use stainless steel or glass food storage containers, avoid plastic kid’s toys or check to see if they contain PVC/#3 plastic, avoid PVC products, and avoid personal care products that contain the catch-all ingredient “fragrance.”
Found in: Water and food.
How to Avoid: This one is really tough. You can use a reverse osmosis filter but this wastes a lot of water and can be pricey. And for food there is no good way to avoid it. Your best bet is to make sure your are getting enough iodine in your diet.
Found in: Furniture, carpet padding, electronics, building materials, car seats, changing table pads, mattresses, and it has even been found in nail polish.
How to Avoid: Vacuum with a good vacuum that has a HEPA filter. EWG is working on release more information on which nail polishes are safe but until that is released it’s best to avoid all nail polish. As this is a complicated be sure to read EWG’s tips on avoiding fire retardants.
Found in: Old paint in homes and on antiques, soil, water, pipes, cosmetics, and more.
How to Avoid: Keep your home cleaned and well maintained. If you have an older home consider testing the paint for lead. Use a good water filter. Avoid painted antiques and vintage ceramics. If you are growing food consider having your soil tested for lead first. Also eat a healthy diet, studies show children with healthy diets absorb less lead.
Found in: Food and water.
How to Avoid: Use a good water filter. Reduce your rice consumption and learn which rice has the most arsenic, also always rinse your rice well before cooking.
Found in: Seafood. It’s also in some electronics and CFLs. However, if you do not break these items you aren’t at risk.
How to Avoid: Limit seafood and the Seafood Watch Guide for what seafood is safest. Dispose of electronics and CFLs properly.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
Found in: Non-stick pans, stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture, and carpets, fast food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and personal care products.
How to Avoid: Choose safer cookware, skip stain and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets, eat less fast food, pop popcorn on the stove, and choose safer personal care products.
Found in: Pesticides
How to Avoid: Buy organic produce and use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
Found in: Paints, cleaning products, brake fluid, and cosmetics.
How to Avoid: Choose safer cleaners and cosmetics. And choose safer paints and always wear a mask and ventilate the room you are painting.
Check out EWG’s Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors list for more information.
Don’t let this list overwhelm you. You don’t need to do everything on it to make a difference. Take it one step at a time. Each step you take matters. We can’t avoid everything bad, we can only keep learning and doing our best.
I’d love to know if you knew about endocrine disruptors and if you have been actively trying to avoid them. Share in the comments below. And also use the buttons below to share this information with your friends and family on social media.