Some chemicals commonly used in the home, workplace, and just about everywhere else are known as endocrine disrupters because once ingested, they mimic the activity of the body’s natural hormones. When these “artificial” hormones intermingle with the body’s own, trouble develops. Every time they are eaten, drunk, or breathed in, exposure multiplies. These 12 chemicals produce hormone-disrupting effects in everybody but cause the biggest problems on a developing fetus and during a child’s earliest years. The effects can last a lifetime. And there are multiple studies showing adverse pregnancy outcomes with exposure to these agents.
This dirty dozen has been associated with many pregnancy complications and may even hinder a couple’s chance at conception
This villain is a mainstay in murder mysteries because, well...it works! If it doesn’t kill you, it can cause cancer of the bladder, lungs, and skin, and interfere with the body’s system of hormones that process sugars and carbohydrates. And studies have shown associations between arsenic and adverse pregnancy complications such as stillbirth, miscarriage, and low birth weights.
- How to avoid: Use a water filter designed specifically to lower levels of arsenic.
Big-business agriculture loves atrazine, especially corn producers. It washes from the fields into the drinking water supply. Male frogs exposed to low levels of atrazine have been known to turn into female frogs that produce fully viable eggs. Studies have shown adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birthweights and preterm births.
- How to avoid: Eat organic fruits and veggies. Install drinking water filters certified to remove atrazine.
Ninety-three percent of all Americans have this estrogen-like synthetic hormone in their bodies. It’s linked to reproductive problems, early puberty, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Studies report an increased risk of premature delivery of those exposed to bisphenol A.
- How to avoid: Don’t eat canned foods, especially acidic foods such as tomato products and fruits. Don’t handle thermal receipt paper, it is often BPA-coated. Avoid plastics with recycle code #7 and those marked with “PC” for polycarbonate.
The industrial farming industry loves dioxin, which causes male and female sex hormones to send mixed signals. Boy babies in the womb can develop sperm-related infertility issues in adulthood. Studies have shown
- How to avoid: Don’t eat commercially raised meat and fish. Eat only organic butter, milk, and eggs.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) can no longer be used but there are enough PBDE-laced products in use today that contamination will continue for decades. These thyroid disrupters are known to lower IQ scores. There are many studies showing a relationship between fire retardants and adverse pregnancy outcomes.
- How to avoid: Vacuum the floors with a HEPA filter. Replace, don’t reupholster, foam furniture. Remove old carpet padding with care.
Cosmetics, cleaning products, brake fluid, paint...many common solvents contain glycol ethers, which cause rat testicles to shrink. Many painters have low sperm counts and abnormalities of the blood. Some studies indicate damage to fertility and developing fetuses. Asthma and allergies are more common in children when glycol ethers are in the paint used in their rooms.
- How to avoid: Don’t use anything with 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) in the ingredients list
Lead affects the body from head to toe and is linked to miscarriage, premature birth, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and hypertension, among other things. It lowers levels of sex hormones and the hormone that keeps the body’s major stress system in check.
- How to avoid: Install a water filter designed to remove arsenic.
Coal burned on land sends mercury-rich clouds over the ocean, where it filters down into the seafood supply, especially the fattiest cold-water fish. Mercury wreaks havoc on the body’s endocrine system and causes the greatest harm during pregnancy when it concentrates on the fetal brain. It interferes with the menstrual cycle and ovulation, too, and is thought to damage insulin-producing pancreatic cells.
- How to avoid: Choose wild salmon and farmed trout for safest supplies of omega-3 fatty acids.
These Nazi-developed compounds were, fortunately, never used on humans as intended but have been used on food crops as pesticides since the end of World War II. Humans get exposure in the food supply. Problems with fertility, behavior, and brain development are the result. Exposure interferes with the way testosterone communicates with other cells, lowers testosterone levels, and hinders thyroid hormones.
- How to avoid: Eat organic fruits and vegetables.
This rocket fuel blankets just about everything. It competes with iodine, causing thyroid problems. The thyroid regulates adult metabolism and is extremely important for brain and organ development in babies and young kids.
- How to avoid: Install a reverse osmosis water filter. Eat iodine-rich seafood. Use iodized salt.
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
Almost every American - 99 percent - has PFCs in the body and one form of it is said to be “completely resistant to biodegradation.” It won’t go away. Ever. It seems to attack thyroid and sex hormones, resulting in decreased sperm quality and low birth weight.
- How to avoid: Don’t use non-stick cookware, it’s coated with this stuff. Avoid clothing, upholstery, and carpet treated with water-resistant sprays or coatings.
Every cell in the human body has a lifespan all its own. Phthalates trigger cell death early, though, especially cells in a man’s testicles. In addition to sperm-related infertility issues, this chemical has been linked to reproductive birth defects in baby boys, diabetes, obesity, and thyroid problems.
- How to avoid: Avoid anything with #3 recycling code - plastic food containers, plastic wrap, even children’s toys. Don’t use cosmetics and toiletries with phthalates or simply “fragrance” in the ingredients list.
Safety in a nutshell? Install water filters. Eat and drink organic. Avoid plastic and toxic fumes.