I always tell my patients that it’s important that they clear their homes of as many endocrine disruptors as possible. EDs are hormone-mimicking, chemical compounds which interfere with and wreak havoc on your body’s normal hormone function (making them do things they shouldn’t) like stimulating cancer development and triggering immunity, fertility, metabolic, developmental and cognitive problems just to name a few (while stopping them from doing what they should be doing) namely protecting you from the aforementioned and keeping your body’s natural hormones balanced.
A few of the most common EDs on the “must avoid” list: BPA (bisphenol-A), parabens, phthalates, PBDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), mercury, lead, pesticides and herbicides. Problem is, avoiding them is easier said than done as EDs are all over the place, lurking in many everyday items such as food, personal care products, sunscreen, perfume, antibacterial washes, household cleaners, laundry products, vinyl shower curtains, plastic toys, electronics, household dust, bug sprays – the list goes on and on!
In short there’s virtually no escaping EDs completely but you can significantly cut your exposure, starting with these easy-to-implement 15 tips:
In the Bathroom
- Trade in your vinyl shower curtain for an environmentally kinder fabric one, which won’t pollute the indoor air like off-gassing, BPA-laden vinyl will.
- Let go of liquid soaps, particularly the anti-bacterial ones. Many of them contain endocrine-disrupting triclosan. Castile soap and hot water will do the job just as well, without harming you or the environment.
- Dump shampoos, conditioners, body washes and moisturizers if phthalates or parabens are listed on the label.
- Love the perfumed smell of lavender or peppermint in your personal care products? Beware, because those synthetic fragrances often come complete with a big dose of EDs! If you want fragrance that really is fragrance, look for products scented with essential oils, or add your own.
- With personal care products, keep in mind that most (even those marked “natural” or |organic”) may contain EDs like phthalates and parabens, so read the label closely.
- Also beware of the generic term “fragrance.” It’s a catch-all phrase often used by personal-care product manufacturers to disguise their endocrine-disrupting ingredients.
- While the FDA may consider them safe, many cosmetics contain high levels of endocrine disruptors. If you wish to avoid them, minimize your make-up routine, use as little as possible and look for organic cosmetics.
- Keep sunscreen use to a minimum as they are packed with EDs and not-so-good-for-you chemicals. Instead, select organic, chemical-free versions, and apply sparingly.
Around the House
- One of the best things you can do to reduce the EDs in your home? Buy a high-quality, high-power vacuum, preferably one that seals in dirt and dust to help minimize your exposure when emptying the collection chamber. Turns out household dust and dirt is thought to be one of the biggest sources of daily ED exposure.
- If you need one more reason to get rid of that old couch or chair, here it is: most furniture manufactured before 2005 received a coat of endocrine-disrupting flame-retardants before they left the factory, and who wants to sit in that? Drag the old stuff to the curb as soon as you can and replace with minimally-treated, untreated or organic pieces.
- When it’s time to upgrade the mattress, ditch the memory foam and trade it in for a healthy version, like a futon or untreated mattress. Click here for ideas on how to sleep cleaner and greener.
- Older computers, printers and TVs were manufactured with endocrine-disrupting flame retardants like PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) or soon-to-be-phased out decaBDE. If you’re not upgrading your electronics soon, then at least get them out of the bedroom and into a well-ventilated area to help limit exposure, particularly when you’re snoozing.
- Your kitchen is a hotbed of EDs. To get them out of your food, check out my post on 15 Ways to Reduce Endocrine Disruptors in Your Kitchen.
In the Great Outdoors
- Weed and pest-killers are loaded with EDs – and I think nobody should use them at all! If you must have that perfect lawn and bug-free back yard, buy non-toxic alternatives to protect yourself, your family, property and the creatures who share it from pesticide-induced endocrine disruption.
- Still barbequing as the last rays of summer are fading? Perhaps it’s time to hang up your tongs – if for no other reason than to curb exposure to endocrine-disrupting PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) which turn up in significant amounts in grilled foods (particularly when over-cooked or charred).
For a list of the 12 worst Endocrine Disrupters, how they do their dirty deeds, and some more tips on how to avoid them, check out “Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors”.