If you didn’t catch our last blog, read Why You Need To Know About This 12 Endocrine Disuptors to understand why it’s so important to avoid them.
Each offender is listed below with ways to avoid each:
BPAs: This is largely found in plastics, so avoiding plastics all together would be great, but we know how hard that is. Some things you can do: Cut down on canned foods. You may never have noticed the coating inside, but many cans are lined with BPA. Try giving up plastic bottles and foods in plastic, and never microwave anything in plastic. Plastics that are particularly concerning and to avoid are anything marked with PVC, 3V, PS, PC, or the numbers 3,6,7 (you’ll find these in the triangles such as on the bottles of bottles.) When someone asks you at the register if you need the receipt, say no. Thermal paper is coated with BPA and enters the bloodstream quickly, especially if you’ve cleaned your hand with hand sanitizer as those are “dermal penetration enhancers.” Not all plastics contain BPA, but if you stay away from those above you’ll be better off. Also, with those bottles with the 1 underneath, they are made with PET. It’s easy to remember that with the 1, it’s made for single use and can contain dozens of chemical additives. Using them more once discharges more bad stuff.
Dioxin: Ok. These are pretty bad because they are long-lived and build up in our body and the food chain. Unfortunately since they are so pervasive in the environment we can’t entirely avoid them, but contaminants generally accumulate in the fat of animals, so eating less meat and trimming fat off helps.
Atrazine: Used as a herbicide widely on food crops, especially corn, the easiest way to avoid this is by eating organic. Since it’s also made its way into drinking water invest in a water filter. There are many water filters that use carbon that remove it. These can be easily researched on the internet.
Phthalates: You’ve probably heard of these. They are incredibly pervasive especially in plastics and cosmetics. Avoid the recycling number 3 in the triangle when you see it. Also “fragrance” often times covers the use of phthalates in personal care products. Because they are used as lubricants in products, you’ll find them in such things as shampoo, laundry detergent, nail polish, and air fresheners. Soft plastics are often softened with phthalates so be aware of that. Believe it or not, they are also in food…for you macaroni and cheese lovers, 10 varieties of boxed macaroni and cheese products tested for phthalates in their cheese powders. :(
Perchlorate: Since it’s found mostly in our produce and milk, it’s difficult to avoid, but you can get rid of it in drinking water with a reverse osmosis filter. Making sure you have enough iodine in your diet will help as perchlorate inhibits the function of your thyroid gland. Iodonized salt is an option.
Fire Retardants: Since they’re found in couches and upholstered chairs containing polyurethane foam don’t reupholster. Some states have banned flame retardants, like California. Otherwise look for TB117 labels on mattresses, pillows, and furniture made with foam and avoid or replace them. Healthystuff.org is a good resource for doing research on products.
Lead: Often in old paints, the best way to stay clear if you are in an older home is keep your home clean and rid of dust and replace old windows. Lead is also found in pipe fixtures. In 2014 federal law lowered the limit to .25% but prior to 2014 it was common to find new fixtures with up to 8% lead. Water filters are the best way to protect yourself from lead in piping or fixtures. Lead is also found in soil, so if you are doing some farming of your own there are low cost tests just to be on the safe side!
Mercury: Replace old tooth fillings, don’t touch a broken thermometer or broken fluorescent light bulb that contains mercury with your bare hands, or vacuum it up for that matter. Look at labels on cosmetics especially those marked anti-aging or skin lightening and don’t buy them if they contain “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric”, or “mercurio” or “mercury.” Also, consider eating less shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish. This FDA link will help you with fish that are safe and unsafe to eat, especially important if your are pregnant. As an alternative to these fish, farmed trout and wild salmon have a lot of healthy omega 3s without the toxicity.
Arsenic: Coal fired power plants, mining, and agricultural pesticides contribute to its presence in the atmosphere. Most of the arsenic we absorb is ingested, goes quickly in the bloodstream and is removed in our urine, but at high doses is a poison and can be lethal and cause cancer. Best thing to do is to eat organic to avoid arsenic sources. Foods high in arsenic: Brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli and cauliflower as inorganic arsenic is attracted to the high levels of sulfur in these vegetables. Depending where the rice is grown, it can also have high levels of arsenic from the ground water. Dark-meat fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, bluefish, swordfish and salmon can also contain high levels. This arsenic is organic as it exists naturally in seawater, so it is considered safer.
PFC’s: Since these are surfactants that make things non-stick, try avoiding those. They are in Teflon pans, stain and water resistant coatings on clothes, furniture and carpets. The more we are exposed to these, the more they accumulate in our bodies and can’t be removed so limiting these as much as possible is a good idea. Ninety nine percent of Americans already have these in their bodies, so they are persistent and doesn’t look like they are going away any time soon.
Organophosphate pesticides: The best way to avoid these is by eating organic and washing your fruits and vegetables. Don’t use pesticides in your home or garden, and be careful to exposing yourself to tick and flea medications for your pet. If you see “chlorpyrifos” in a product stay away from it. You’ll find it to kill bees, fleas, wasps, hornets, termites and roaches. Most people who are poisoned are often exposed to this chemical. If you use these pesticides on your lawn, remember that you can bring this chemical inside with your shoes, so consider taking your shoes off at the door. Check out www.ewg.org/foodnews to learn more.
Glycol Ethers : We are exposed to these through solvents for resins, paints, varnishes, gum, perfume, dyes, ink, cleaning agents, liquid soap, and cosmetics. Avoid products that have ingredients such as 2- Methoxyethanol and 2-Ethoxyethanol and 2-Butoxyethanol and Methoxydiglycol. A good resource to use is EWG’s Guide To Healthy Cleaning: www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners. For example the Swiffer contains Butoxypropanol and other nasty stuff. It’s rated a D on EWG’s guide.
While it takes some effort to incorporate new habits and changes, ultimately it's empowering to make choices that feel good for your health and the planet. It's also a strong statement to companies showing them that compromising products are wrong. By choosing to avoid what we don't want we are sending our own clean message.