Many of you have heard of BPA, and some of you may now be familiar with ADA in bread. However, many common household goods, personal care products, and food and water are major sources of chemical exposure that can lead to an accumulation of toxicants in your body and cause hormone disruption. I certainly don't expect you to memorize them all, however being aware of the most pervasive endocrine disruptor is the first step to minimizing your exposures. The EWG's "dirty dozen" list for the 12 worst endocrine disruptors are the following. I've written about many of these in prior articles, so for more information about any particular one, please follow the links provided.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
19 Tips to Reduce Your Chemical Exposure
Implementing the following measures will help you avoid the worst endocrine-disrupting culprits as well as other chemicals from a wide variety of sources. To sum it up, try to stick with whole foods and natural products around your home. The fewer ingredients a product contains, the better, and try to make sure anything you put on or in your body – or use around your home – contains only substances you're familiar with. If you can't pronounce it, you probably don't want it anywhere near your family.
- As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic meats to reduce your exposure to added hormones, pesticides, and fertilizers. Also avoid milk and other dairy products that contain the genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST).
- Rather than eating conventional or farm-raised fish, which are often heavily contaminated with PCBs and mercury, supplement with a high-quality purified krill oil, or eat fish that is wild-caught and lab tested for purity. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is about the only fish I eat for these reasons.
- Buy products that come in glass containers rather than plastic or canned, since chemicals can leach out of plastics and into the contents.
- Store your food and beverages in glass rather than plastic, and avoid using plastic wrap.
- Use glass baby bottles and BPA-free sippy cups for your little ones. Some manufacturers have even moved to glass, since BPA-free products may contain other toxic bisphenols.
- Eat mostly raw, fresh foods. Processed, prepackaged foods (of all kinds) are a common source of chemicals such as bisphenols (e.g. BPA and BPS) and phthalates.
- Replace your non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware.
- Filter your tap water—both for drinking and bathing. If you can only afford to do one, filtering your bathing water may be more important, as your skin absorbs contaminants. To remove the endocrine-disrupting herbicide Atrazine, make sure the filter is certified to remove it. According to the EWG, perchlorate can be filtered out using a reverse osmosis filter.
- Look for products that are made by companies that are earth-friendly, animal-friendly, green, non-toxic, and/or 100% organic. This applies to everything from food and personal care products to building materials, carpeting, paint, baby items, upholstery, and more.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to remove house dust, which is often contaminated with traces of chemicals.
- When buying new products such as furniture, mattresses, or carpet padding, ask what type of fire retardant it contains. Be mindful of and/or avoid items containing PBDEs, antimony, formaldehyde, boric acid, and other brominated chemicals. As you replace these toxic items around your home, select those that contain naturally less flammable materials, such as leather, wool, and cotton.
- Avoid stain- and water-resistant clothing, furniture, and carpets to avoid perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).
- Make sure your baby's toys are BPA-free, such as pacifiers, teething rings, and anything your child may be prone to suck on.
- Only use natural cleaning products in your home or make your own. Avoid products that contain 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME)—two toxic glycol ethers that can damage fertility and cause fetal harm.10
- Switch over to organic brands of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, antiperspirants, and cosmetics. Remember, you can replace many different products with coconut oil and baking soda, for example. The Environmental Working Group has a great database11 to help you find personal care products that are free of phthalates and other potentially dangerous chemicals. I also offer one of the highest quality organic skin care lines, shampoo and conditioner, and body butter that are completely natural and safe.
- Replace feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads with safer alternatives.
- Avoid artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or other synthetic fragrances.
- Look for products that are fragrance-free. One artificial fragrance can contain hundreds -- even thousands -- of potentially toxic chemicals.
- Replace your vinyl shower curtain with one made of fabric.