Many chemicals, both natural and man-made, may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones, known as the endocrine system. Called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems.
Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, liners of metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.
Some endocrine-disrupting chemicals are slow to break-down in the environment. That characteristic makes them potentially hazardous over time.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals cause adverse effects in animals. But limited scientific information exists on potential health problems in humans. Because people are typically exposed to multiple endocrine disruptors at the same time, assessing public health effects is difficult.
What are some common endocrine disruptors?
Bisphenol A (BPA) — used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, which are found in many plastic products including food storage containers
Dioxins — produced as a byproduct in herbicide production and paper bleaching, they are also released into the environment during waste burning and wildfires
Perchlorate — a by-product of aerospace, weapon, and pharmaceutical industries found in drinking water and fireworks
Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) — used widely in industrial applications, such as firefighting foams and non-stick pan, paper, and textile coatings
Phthalates — used to make plastics more flexible, they are also found in some food packaging, cosmetics, children’s toys, and medical devices
Phytoestrogens — naturally occurring substances in plants that have hormone-like activity, such as genistein and daidzein that are in soy products, like tofu or soy milk
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) — used to make flame retardants for household products such as furniture foam and carpets
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) — used to make electrical equipment like transformers, and in hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, and plasticizers
Triclosan — may be found in some anti-microbial and personal care products, like liquid body wash
How do people encounter endocrine-disrupting chemicals?
People may be exposed to endocrine disruptors through food and beverages consumed, pesticides applied, and cosmetics used. In essence, your contact with these chemicals may occur through diet, air, skin, and water.
Even low doses of endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be unsafe. The body’s normal endocrine functioning involves very small changes in hormone levels, yet we know even these small changes can cause significant developmental and biological effects. This observation leads scientists to think that endocrine-disrupting chemical exposures, even at low amounts, can alter the body’s sensitive systems and lead to health problems.
So what can we do? This is where a low tox lifestyle becomes key. Decreasing our exposure to endocrine disruptors lowers our risk of the many diseases that can be caused by these substances.
Enter my new project The Heathy Option (www.thehealthyoption.com.au) where my focus is low tox living in a sustainable way. Focusing on bringing you the best products on the market, all check by me to make sure they are as low tox and environmentally friendly as is possible, your new one stop, low tox shop is opening very shortly.
Along with stocking low tox products, The Healthy Option will focus on teaching a low tox lifestyle, being able to spot toxin containing products and information on sustainability and giving back.
I hope to see you soon in this new space!