ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS - PART 2
Updated: Jun 28
This is the second article regarding endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs.
This article focuses on minimizing and avoiding exposure to these chemicals. I have presented a lot of information in these articles. Some of this information is scary stuff. By creating awareness, we can take action to protect our families. Keep in mind that much more research is needed: on the actual risks of exposure, the amount required to cause harm, and whether these are truly dangerous.
The best way to avoid exposure is to check labels and avoid unnecessary, preventable exposures. Manufacturers may not list all the EDCs in their products, so this is not always possible. Taking precautions is wise, even though many health effects are not proven. Become familiar with EDCs to which you and your family may be exposed. Exchanges can be simple, like choosing unscented personal care products and cleaners and replacing older nonstick pans with newer, ceramic-coated ones. These measures are more significant if you are pregnant or planning a family.
WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN:
Wash your hands often, especially before eating or preparing food, preferably with unscented hand soap or bar soap. Avoid hand sanitizers that are not primarily alcohol-based.
Vacuum and dust frequently. Vacuums with a HEPA filter will trap the dust. Flame retardant chemicals are commonly used in household products and collect in household dust.
Change air filters regularly.
Choose fragrance-free items such as lotions, detergents, hand soaps, and cleaning products. Fragrances contain phthalates which are known endocrine disruptors. Avoid personal care products containing “fluoro” or “perfluoro” compounds (PFCs). Choose products labeled Phthalate-Free, BPA-Free, and Paraben-Free.
Reduce your use of plastics. You cannot avoid this entirely, but avoid storing or microwaving food in plastic containers, use glass instead. Doing so will decrease your exposure to bisphenol-A and phthalates.
Shop for children’s toys made from silicone rather than plastic. Use infant formula bottles, sippy cups, and toys labeled BPA-Free and avoid containers #3, #6, and #7. Polyvinyl chloride plastics with phthalates typically have the recycle code #3 and polycarbonate plastics with BPA have the recycle code #7.
Avoid or minimize kid-related bath and body products - bubble baths, bath bombs, fragranced lotions, nail polish, makeup, glosses, and glitter. These are full of chemicals that contain EDCs and can lead to skin irritation. Check the EWG website for more info. Avoid cosmetics that are "waterproof, wear-resistant, and long-lasting" as in mascaras, foundations, and liquid lipsticks - these have high fluorine levels.
Steer clear of grease-repellent coatings found in fast food containers such as microwave popcorn bags and pizza boxes.
Stain-resistance treatments used on furniture and carpets and finishing treatments such as Stainmaster® contain perfluoro- compounds, thus not the safest choice.
Where possible, choose alternatives to outerwear and sportswear that have been treated for water or stain resistance if not necessary.
Look for the “Safer Choice” label designated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) when choosing cleaning products. Vinegar or baking soda are more eco-friendly cleaning items.
Forbid smoking in your home.
Silicone kids' toys are a great alternative to plastic
Items to avoid during pregnancy (meaning read labels!) which can be absorbed from the mother by the fetus:
PFAs (polyfluoro alkyls)
Look for this image when shopping for cleaning and personal products.
Avoiding EDCs in Food and Water, Especially for Children:
Limit canned food usage - choose fresh, frozen, or dried as much as possible (and don’t store in plastic containers if avoidable). Select “BPA-free” cans, cardboard, or glass packaging when available.
Shop for foods grown with the least pesticides, or choose organic if affordable. Check out ewg.org - the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” listings for which produce are best to buy organic and which are grown with minimal pesticides. Look for the USDA Organic sign. Wash well or peel before eating.
Look for stainless steel or cast iron cookware rather than nonstick since the chemicals in nonstick can harbor EDCs, primarily PFAS and PFOA. The least toxic cookware are stainless steel, cast iron, enamel-coated cast iron, ceramic, and glass. PFOA was removed from nonstick cookware in 2013; older cookware may contain this.
Filter tap water and drink from a glass rather than from plastic bottles.
Avoid proteins and meats raised with antibiotics.
Look for simple, unrefined foods with as few additives, preservatives, artificial colors, and sweeteners as possible, i.e., a short ingredient list. The more processed a food is, the more phthalates it contains.
Choose oatmeal or other grains instead of rice cereal for infants. The arsenic content in rice is higher compared to other cereals and grains.
Trim the fat from meat and the skin from fish. EDCs are stored in animal fat.
Choose seafood low in mercury, such as canned tuna, trout, salmon, mackerel, shellfish, and snapper.
Eat a diversified diet to expose your child to as many flavors, textures, and varieties of food as possible. You lessen your exposure by not eating the same food frequently.
It can be overwhelming to realize how pervasive EDCs are in our environment. Know that you cannot avoid them entirely, but do what you can to reasonably minimize exposures.
There are numerous steps we can take to control our exposure to these environmental hazards. A little knowledge goes a long way!