Our environment is that toxic that babies are born with more than 200 different man-made chemicals in their bodies.
Many synthetic chemicals have an unfortunate affinity to the endocrine system causing hormonal problems and infertility in both women and men. It’s also difficult to test and track down which chemicals are causing what since we live in a “chemical soup” of thousands of different substances.
TOP ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS
(adapted from the EWG list)
1. Bisphenol A aka BPA is a chemical found in the bodies of over 90% of Americans (and probably most of us in Europe or Australia). It has a widespread effect on the body; it’s linked to cancers, reproductive problems, heart disease and early puberty.
2. Dioxins are industrial by-products that lower sperm quality and count. They are also carcinogenic and have a negative effect on respiratory and immune systems.
3. Herbicide Atrazine is sprayed on crops and it can contaminate drinking water. Even low doses of it can turn male frogs into females. It’s also linked to breast tumours, delayed puberty and prostate cancer.
4. Fire retardants are everywhere. They’re added to mattresses, carpets, televisions and other electronics and as a results they have now contaminated humans and animals alike. Fire retardant chemicals damage the thyroid.
5. Phthalates found in plastics and many cosmetic products can cause low sperm count, hormonal changes, male birth defects and thyroid problems.
6. Perchlorate is a component of rocket fuel! What does it have to do with hormonal health? Well, it ends up in our food supply and it can cause thyroid hormone imbalance as it competes with iodine in the body.
7. Toxic heavy metals lead, arsenic and mercury are found in fish, water supply and in old paints. All three of them play havoc on hormones mainly by disrupting hormone signalling and causing insulin resistance and menstrual problems.
8. Do you use non-stick cookware? Then you are being exposed to perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). These are very widespread chemicals present in most people. PFCs are linked to thyroid problems, decreased sperm quality and low birth weight among other things.
9. Organophosphate pesticides are still used on many non-organic food crops despite evidence that they cause problems with fertility, brain function and behaviour. These pesticides are based on the same chemistry used by the Nazis in World War II when they developed neurotoxic chemical weapons!
10. When rats were exposed to glycol ethers they developed shrunken testicles. This is a common solvent used in paint, cleaning products and cosmetics. The EU says these chemicals “can damage fertility or your unborn child”.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. You can make a difference by choosing what you eat and what products you use. And it’s actually quite easy once you get into a new habit of reading labels and making informed decisions.
HOW TO AVOID EXPOSURE TO THESE CHEMICALS?
Choose organic food whenever you can. Spending a bit more on quality food is an investment in your health.
Purchase a good quality filter for your drinking water.
Avoid canned foods, go fresh or frozen instead.
Don’t heat food in plastic or styrofoam containers or wrap food in plastic wrap.
Avoid all polycarbonate plastic bottles and containers (marked PC).
Choose natural cosmetics; especially sunscreen, nail polish and perfume.
Avoid using tumble dryer sheets and commercial, chemical-laden cleaning products.
Buy natural and organic or reusable sanitary products and nappies for babies.
Use natural, solvent-free paint when decorating.
THIS IS HOW I DO IT
These changes didn’t happen overnight but gradually over the years I have adopted new ways of natural living.
Make up: DIY mineral makeup or as natural as possible. (Still looking for a good natural mascara!)
Cleaning: Vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and natural-only cleaning products.
Hygiene: Natural castile soap and shampoo.
Laundry: Soap nuts or an eco-friendly washing powder.
Deodorant: One without aluminium or a bit of coconut oil or apple cider vinegar.
Moisturiser: Argan oil or rosehip oil. I have been playing with different DIY recipes too with coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax.
Food: I go organic whenever I can. Not always possible. But if I can’t, I won’t beat myself up for it 🙂
Sleep: I bought a chemical-free cotton and wool futon-style mattress. (We spend a third of our lives in the bed so it’s important).
Cooking: Stainless steel pans and pots and a non-toxic frying pan (no non-stick stuff in our house).
Paint: I use solvent-free paints when decorating, I just stained my wooden bed with lovely oil-based, natural wood stain. No nasty smell, no chemicals.
I think by doing this I have not only helped reduce my toxic overload but probably saved a lot of money over the years by making my own cosmetics and cleaning products. Win-win!
This year I want to reduce plastic waste so that’s the next challenge.
So, what small change could you make in your life today to have less exposure to these nasty chemicals?