by Emma Rohmann
Hormone disrupting chemicals first hit mainstream media a few years ago with the Nalgene water bottle and BPA blow-up. Since then, BPA has been banned in baby bottles and teethers due to its health risks and increased exposures of young children. Despite this, several popular baby products have since been found to contain BPA and phthalates – even some that were labelled “BPA-Free”.
So why should we care whether our water bottles and teething toys have BPA?
Because it’s just one example of hundreds of hormone disrupting chemicals we’re exposed to in our daily lives. In fact, close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected hormone disruptors, but only a small fraction of them have been thoroughly studied. Many are freely allowed to be used in our skincare, furniture, mattresses, cleaning products, and even children’s pyjamas.
What are hormone disrupting chemicals?
It’s worth backing up a bit and getting clear on what these are. Many people think of hormones and automatically assume women’s and reproductive health. But our hormones are actually responsible for every gland in our bodies, affecting our energy levels, metabolism, immune system, neurological functions, detoxification pathways, and more.
Hormone disruptors can interrupt or change the way our hormones are meant to work. And studies are showing that they can cause changes at much lower amounts than previously thought.
How do hormone disrupting chemicals affect our health?
The World Health Organization is especially concerned about how hormone disruptors affect children, since their bodies are growing and changing so rapidly. Particularly concerning is that hormone disruptors are found in the cord blood of newborns.
Some studies suggest hormone disruptors play a role in developmental disorders and autoimmune disease. Others are suggesting that hormone disruptors may impair hormone function and sperm production in men, and may impair ovulation and egg quality in women. For women with conditions such as PCOS and endometriosis, hormone disruptors may make symptoms worse.
What You Can Do
Now this might sound all doom and gloom, but there is a bright side: small changes at home can have a big impact on your exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals and therefore have a positive impact on your health. Here are 6 steps you can take to reduce your exposure at home:
- Read labels. Avoid body care products with phthalates and parabens in the ingredient list. They are common preservatives and have been found to be absorbed through the skin directly into our bloodstream.
- Choose unscented. Look for unscented cleaning products, body care products, and candles. Fragrance ingredients do not have to be disclosed, and they typically contain phthalates (among other toxics). If you want a fragrance, choose those that use 100% essential oils.
- Reduce plastics. Store food in stainless steel, glass or stoneware instead. Do not put hot food or beverages in plastic containers, and never heat food in plastic.
- Reduce canned goods. Many conventional cans are lined with BPA, a known hormone disruptor. Some organic brands use BPA-free linings, but note that some products labelled BPA-free may use BPS or BPF as alternatives, which are showing the same hormone disrupting properties as BPA.
- Dust and vacuum regularly. At least weekly, dust with a damp cloth and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to remove household dust that has been shown to contain high concentrations of hormone disrupting chemicals.
- Reduce meat consumption. Several hormone disrupting chemicals are pervasive in our water and soils. They get stored in fat, so the more animal products you eat, the more you’re exposed to these chemicals through the food chain.
Just like eating well, exercising, and reducing stress, it’s about building the habit. Start slow. Pick one item on the list above and make it happen. Then you can add more as you get more comfortable with the strategies. If you’re looking for more ideas to create a healthier home, join my free 5-Day Home Detox starting February 26th – sign up here.
I’d love to hear what your next step will be to reduce hormone disruptors in your home – share in the comments below!