The endocrine system regulates all hormones within the body. These hormones influence nearly every biological process in a person’s life. Therefore, it is prudent to guard one’s endocrine system and keep it functioning as best as possible. One of the greatest threats to this system is the group of toxins known as endocrine disruptors.
Perhaps the most sinister aspect of endocrine disruptors is that they stealthily invade our daily lives and even our homes. Because of frequent everyday exposure to toxic materials containing endocrine disruptors we are at increased risk of developing serious conditions.
Exposure to endocrine disruptors is associated with:
- Male and female reproductive issues
- Neurological damage and disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease)
- Cancer (breast, kidney, liver, prostate, and others)
- Immune disorders
- Thyroid conditions
- Reduced mental and physical development
Avoiding toxins can be challenging not only because they are in many common products but one may also be unaware which products are dangerous. Hopefully, by unveiling some of the culprits that contain endocrine disrupting chemicals and materials you will be better equipped to avoid them. The following categories and items should be first on your list to do away with during your upcoming spring cleaning spree.
1) Home Furnishings
Unfortunately, the home is often populated by many deceptive and dangerous endocrine disrupting materials. Some items, particularly plastics, such as polyvinyl flooring, wall coverings, and shower curtains contain phthalates. This chemical is used to make plastics more flexible and is frequently included in many goods intended for living spaces. Phthalates are dangerous because they negatively impact hormonal communication and function.
Furniture may also be quietly releasing toxins into your home. If your favorite chair, or family room sofa was purchased before 2006, there is a greater risk that it contains PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers). This material was commonly used as a flame retardant but was later discovered to damage one’s health. If you plan to replace your old furniture, look for products that are made with organic fibers and don’t contain phthalates or PBDEs. A good practice to utilize while shopping for new furniture is making sure it was produced in 2015 or later and has a TB 117-2013 Label that reads: “The upholstery materials in this product contain NO added flame retardant chemicals.” Don’t let old furniture harm your household.
Because the items used in the kitchen so frequently interact with food we consume it is important to be aware of the possible dangers of objects in the kitchen. Plastic containers and non-stick cookware may be releasing endocrine disrupting chemicals without your knowledge. Plastic products frequently contain BPAs or other chemicals that can contribute to hormonal malfunction. Release of these chemicals is promoted when the objects are heated. For example; warming food in a plastic container can increase its exposure to harmful substances.
When some non-stick products are heated, they release perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA). This chemical is associated with the development of thyroid disease, developmental and reproductive issues, reduced immune function, and certain cancers. The best alternative is to utilize inert containers and cookware made of materials such as glass and ceramic or enameled cooking products.
Many of the products we utilize to stay clean and hygienic may also have a negative impact on our hormone balance. Antibacterial soap, shampoos, moisturizers, and toothpastes frequently contain endocrine disruptors such as triclosan. This chemical is utilized for its antibacterial and antifungal attributes. Some studies have found that the compound alters hormone balance and regulation and may induce bacteria resistance. Alternatively, there are numerous organic and non-toxic toiletries available on the market. It is important to find one that works for you that doesn’t contain hormone-altering elements such as triclosan and phthalates.
Widely recognized as a harmful heavy metal, lead is usually already on one’s radar when it comes to toxins. Lead is often cited as causing brain damage, premature birth and miscarriage, increased blood pressure, and hormonal issues. Although most are aware of the dangers of lead, some may not be aware of its presence in their home. Lead used to be a common additive in paint, which after a few years can deteriorate and release its endocrine disrupting toxins into the air. A good way to start your spring redecorating is safely removing dangerous lead-based paint and replacing it with a safer pop of color. Keep in mind, it is important to be careful when removing paint as it can easily remain in the air and enter one’s lungs.
5) Pesticides and Poisons
Because their intended purpose is to kill undesired pests it is not surprising that pesticides and lawn care products contain chemicals that are harmful to our endocrine system. Even if you do not come into direct contact with these toxins they can still impact your body. In the U.S., cornfields are regularly sprayed with pesticides, which turn food into stealthy carriers of endocrine disruptors. One way to avoid this issue is buying organic fruits and vegetables that are farmed without the use of chemicals.
Exposure to weed killers and lawn care products can cause hormonal dysfunction. One doesn’t have to breathe in or come into physical contact with these chemicals to be affected by them. Because these chemicals rest on the ground, there is risk of it seeping into the water supply. An easy resolution to this issue is to cease using chemical products for one’s garden or lawn. Alternatively, one can invest in a water filter for their drinking water as well as their bath/shower; doing this can help prevent exposure to harmful chemicals such as atrazine that is often found in lawn care products.
6) Canned Foods
In a 2014 study that inspected 252 canned food brands, it was found that 78 of them were still utilizing BPAs in their products. This chemical is widely recognized as an endocrine disruptor and is well documented as causing developmental damage when exposed to pregnant women, fetuses, and young children. A frighteningly high percentage of cans found in North America use a BPA coating. Usually this coating is in direct contact with the food inside. Transference of this harmful chemical into foodstuffs is dangerous. Therefore, eating canned foods should be avoided if possible.
Now that you are more familiar with the threats hidden within some of the more common household items you can construct an efficient plan of attack for spring cleaning. By replacing objects that contain BPAs, phthalates, triclosan, dangerous flame retardants, and other endocrine disrupting substances you can not only organize and clean house but you can support your endocrine system and protect your body too!