Chemicals In Common Household Items Can Endanger You And Your Family
Common household items from detergents to food packaging may be exposing you and your family health hazards caused by chemical ingredients.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system. EDCs produces adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife. According to the Endocrine Society, EDCs can be found in personal care products, electronics, pesticides, textiles, and clothing. Contact with these chemicals can be through inhalation, consumption, or contact with the skin.
“The endocrine system is really controlling almost all major processes in the body — blood pressure, metabolism, those kinds of things that are just essential for everyday function,” says Sheela Sathyanarayana, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington and an investigator at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute who studies the effects of EDCs. “These chemicals can mimic or antagonize or interfere with hormone signaling or hormone production. They disrupt the normal hormone processes in the body.”
According to a December 2014 report, “while associations between increased human chemical exposures and increased disease rates are suggestive, they do not prove that the two are linked.” But as Leonardo Trasande, MD, an endocrinologist and associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, points out: “Over the past couple of decades, increasing and emerging evidence suggests that chemicals may disrupt the function of hormones in our bodies… [and] that disruption of those hormones can produce a broad array of conditions across the life course — birth defects, obesity, diabetes, even certain cancers.”
A 2013 report from the World Health Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme stated that “significant knowledge gaps exist as to associations between exposures to EDCs and other endocrine diseases,” and that “disease risk due to EDCs may be significantly underestimated.”
Chemicals to Be Aware Of
The following are some known EDCs, and where they are typically found:
Phthalates, which are used to make plastics more flexible, can be found in plastic packaging, garden hoses, and children’s toys. They are also found in personal care products and detergents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have linked prenatal phthalate exposure to changes in the male reproductive system and an increased risk of allergies.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are used as a flame retardant in furniture and certain textiles. Human studies have suggested that prenatal exposure to PBDEs can harm the developing nervous system, leading to behavioral and cognitive problems and impaired motor function. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found children with the highest levels of prenatal PBDE exposure had lower IQs and were more likely to be hyperactive than their peers with lower levels of exposure.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to prevent rusting in the linings of metal cans, and it can be found in food and beverage containers. BPA affects estrogen levels, and human studies have suggest that high prenatal BPA exposure can increase a person’s risk of developing behavior problems, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, and impaired liver function later in life.
Triclosan, which is used as an antibacterial, may be found in clothing, toys, and kitchenware. It is also added to soaps, toothpastes, and some cosmetics. Accoding to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Triclosan is not known to be hazardous to humans but scientific studies have proposed further review of this chemical.
What You Can Do
Clean dust regularly: EDCs accumulate in household dust. As such, keep surfaces as dust-free as possible using a moist cloth to clean. Keeping your home well-ventilated by opening your windows can also reduce chemical exposure.
Avoid canned and processed foods: EDCs can accumulate in fat found in dairy and high-fat animal products. Stock up your refrigerator with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Buy organic food when possible.
Use green-cleaning products: Products like bio-home uses 100% plant-based active ingredients that does not contain any harmful chemicals.
Safe and simple steps such as the above can help to limit your family’s exposure to EDCs. Take action now to protect yourself and your family.