The EPA opened the doors on its US Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program in 1996. This branch of the agency was responsible for determining the impact on humans of industrial and agricultural chemicals either directly or indirectly.
Like what happens to our drinking water when herbicides run off of plants and into streams…
Or when children drink from plastic laced with BPA.
We’ve talked before about what endocrine-disruptors do — how they mimic naturally occurring hormones and interfere with signals in the body.
And the country has come a long way in regulating the chemical presences and excesses of these dangerous compounds.
But there is still a lot that’s unknown — for example, at which quantity does each individual endocrine-disruptor begin to affect a human being? How long does one have to be exposed in order for the effect to be permanent or noticeable? Are there homeopathic ways to counteract the impact of endocrine-disruptors on the body?
We don’t have exact answers to many of these questions.
So intrepid citizens in-the-know tend to avoid endocrine-disruptors as much as possible, as a preventive mitigating tactic.
Short of building your own house from materials that you also built, growing your own food and tilling your own soil (which just isn’t a possibility for everyone), there are ways to reduce your exposure to these chemicals and lower their access to your body.
Termed EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals), they lurk in every corner of your home.
Compiled here are six ways you can consciously avoid them…
Stop Buying Canned Food
Cans in the U.S. are commonly lined with BPA, or bisphenol A.
It’s the epoxy coating on the can, rather, that contains the synthetic estrogen, according to the Environmental Working Group (which works tirelessly to aid consumers in the fight to avoid endocrine-disruptors.) Its purpose is to prevent rust and corrosion, and to make the cans sturdier.
But the chemicals also contaminate the food.
Only an estimated 12% of brands have BPA-free cans.
Avoid Using Non-stick Pans
The reason that non-stick pans work so well is that they contain perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, one strain of which has been catalogued as a forever-chemical (you know, the kind that never biodegrades.)
PFCs were designed to resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. They have been linked to high cholesterol as well as having a negative effect on human growth, development, and reproduction.
Instead, try using stainless steel, cast iron, or ceramic pans.
Take Inventory of Your Cleaning Products, Personal Care Products, and Cosmetics
This is going to be tough.
But pull all of the cleaning products out of your cabinet — under the sink or in the linen closet, wherever you keep that mess of spray bottles. Pull out your perfumes, nail polish, shampoo, body wash, conditioner, moisturizers, and anything else you regularly apply to your body.
It’s likely that you’ll find glycol ethers, parabens, and phthalates in the ingredients.
If you don’t know what something is, look it up. (Two common EDCs are 2-butoxyethanol and methoxydiglycol.)
If you find that it’s an EDC, toss out the offending product! (We’ll be posting some easy replacements for household products with EDCs soon…)
Run Couch Prospects Through the EDC Checklist
It’s surprising, but even sofas contain EDCs in the form of flame-retardants and PFOAs, which make couches water-resistant.
If you already own your couch and find that it contains these compounds, consider covering it with a thick fabric sofa covering. If you’re in the market for a new couch, stay away from those components.
If you’re in the market for a couch, look for specifically EDC-free couches, or at the very least, pay attention to the labels as you’re shopping.
Dust and Vacuum Regularly
EDCs can actually build up in the dust in your home.
What that means is when you breathe in, touch, or ingest dust… you’re also taking in the pesticide pyralastrobin, the flame-retardant TBPDP, and the plasticizer DBP, all of which multiply fat cells and have been linked to weight gain.
It’s not just cosmetic — keeping a dust-free home is essential for allowing your hormones to behave naturally.
Replace Your Plastic Wherever You Can
We all do it. Plastic wrap for our food, plastic baggies for our sandwiches, plastic tupperware containers, plastic on our phones, plastic bottles for our shampoo and conditioner.
Wherever possible, swap your plastics out for glass, stainless steel, beeswax cloth — even choosing wooden toys over plastic. And never microwave plastic.
Because lurking in plastics…
You’ll find BPA and phthalates.
EDCs are all around us.
And scientists are working constantly to figure out at which doses humans can be noticeably impacted, so that the EPA can impose stricter regulations.
But for now…
It’s absolutely vital that you are aware of what’s in your home, and are taking steps to mitigate the damage done by EDCs.