How to Keep Your Family Safe from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

How to Keep Your Family Safe from Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

You might have heard about endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA, phthalates, and PFAS. You might have also heard that they’re all over the modern world, from scented cosmetics, to plastics, to the lining of tin cans. They’re extremely hard to avoid. However, there’s good reason to think how to reduce your families’ exposure.

Over the past few years more and more evidence has shown the horrible impact these chemicals have on people’s health, especially young children. Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in the womb and early childhood has been linked to a host of nasty outcomes like reduced IQ, behavioral disorders, weight gain, and fertility issues later in life. 

If you’re an adult, don’t think you’re out of the woods as exposure in adulthood can lead to reduced sperm quality, increased cancer risk, and even premature death

Although it might seem like a lot at first, there are some easy swaps that you can make to help keep your family safe from these chemicals. Read on to find out our top tips on keeping safe from EDCs.

So, What are EDCs, and Why Do You Need to Avoid Them?

To protect your family from EDCs, it’s important to understand what they are, what they do, and where they’re found. Here’s a guide to the endocrine disrupting chemicals in your home

Phthalates

Useful For

Making plastics flexible and durable. Used in perfumes and cosmetics to lock in color and fragrance.

Found In 

Flexible plastics, plastic Tupperware, processed foods, canned goods, bottled water, fragrances, hair-care products, soap, paints, shower curtains, nail polish and other products.

Harm Caused 

Phthalates can block testosterone in the body, having a devastating effect on sexual function in boys. It can stop male infants from developing properly in the womb, making them more likely to be born with genital defects. In men, it reduces sperm count and quality, and causes sex drives to plummet. They have been linked to causing PCOS in women and are thought to contribute to obesity and diabetes


Bisphenol A (BPA)

Useful For

Making lightweight and strong plastics. It’s also used in the lining of food and drink cans to stop them from rusting.

Found In 

Bottled water, baby bottles (produced before 2012), plastic Tupperware, canned foods and drinks, CDs and electronics, toys, and other products.

Harm Caused

BPA is an estrogen mimic, meaning it can fool the body into thinking there is a lot of estrogen around. This can seriously impact both male and female fertility and fetal development in the womb. BPA has also been shown to negatively effect brain function, cause weight gain and diabetes, and could even lead to cancer in the breast, ovary, and prostate.


Per- or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS)/ perfluorochemicals (PFCs)

Useful For

Making products stain, grease and water-resistant, stopping food sticking to cookware whilst preparing meals.

Found in 

Non-stick cookware, packaging of greasy food like pizza or fries, water resistant clothing, stain resistant furniture, flooring, and other products.

Harm Caused

PFAS/ PFCs and similar chemicals are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they do not break down in the environment. There are now over 4700 types of PFAS/PFCs around and they can go by different names like PFOA and PFOS. PFAS/PFCs have been linked to all types of nasty effects on the body like increasing the risk of developing cancer, reducing fetal growth, raising cholesterol, lowering thyroid function, and increasing the risk of early miscarriage.  


Chemical Pesticides

Useful For

Removing pests from crops.

Found in 

Numerous chemical pesticides used in industry and at home.

Harm Caused

Parkinson’s disease, respiratory issues in children, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and altered thyroid function


Ways to Keep Your Family Safe

Let’s talk about some steps you can take to minimize contact with these nasty chemicals to help keep you and your family safe. You don’t have to do all of them to make a difference, even making a couple of swaps in your daily life can go a long way to minimizing your exposure to EDCs. 

Food Containers and Cooking Utensils 

  1. Change Up Your Tupperware. Plastic Tupperware often contain phthalates and BPAs. Making a switch to non-plastic alternatives like ceramic, glass, or bamboo can decrease the number of EDCs that enter your food. 
  2. Minimizing Risk from Plastic Tupperware. Although best avoided altogether, if you have to stick with plastic, there are still a few things you can do to minimize the number of EDCs that come into contact with your food: 

    Don’t reheat meals in the microwave if they’re in plastic as the chemicals can “leach” out of the containers and into your food. High fat foods like cheese and meat are particularly prone to this. Try decanting the food into a pan and warming it up on the stove instead. 

    Top rack or hand wash plastic. The high temperatures in a dishwasher can cause the plastic to break down and leach EDCs. Handwashing your plastic containers will reduce the amount that the plastics break down, lowering EDC leaching into your food. 
  3. Avoid Plastic Water Bottles. Plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment and bad for you too. Many of them contain EDCs which enter the water contained inside and are then transferred to your body when you take a drink. Use reusable bottles made from stainless steel or glass to protect your family and mother nature.
  4. Use Reusable Utensils. As with plastic water bottles, phthalates and other chemicals can be found in many single-use plastic items like cutlery, straws, and utensils. By switching to reusable metal or wooden alternatives you’ll be reducing your exposure to chemicals and reducing waste.
  5. Avoid Non-Stick Cookware. Although handy in the kitchen, non-stick cookware often contains PFCs (especially if you’ve owned it for a while). When heated to high temperatures, these EDCs can leave the non-stick coating and enter the food you’re cooking. Safe alternatives include cookware that doesn’t have a non-stick coating. If you have to use items with a non-stick coating, make sure not to heat it above 450oF and chuck out any non-stick cookware that’s showing wear and tear.

Food and Drink

  1. Cook More Meals at Home. The manufacture of processed foods causes them to come in contact with lots of EDCs. These EDCs stay in the food and enter your body once you eat them. We’re not saying you can never have processed foods again but making them a treat rather than an everyday item can seriously reduce the amount of chemicals that enter your body. Plus, they’re healthier for you in general and save you money too!
  2. Go Organic. A lot of commercial pesticides contain EDCs. When they’re sprayed onto crops, they stick with them. This means a lot of fresh produce contains chemicals. Organic foods are not allowed to be grown with pesticides and should therefore serve as a better alternative to limit EDC consumption.
  3. If Organic isn’t Accessible. Unfortunately, organic food can come with a hefty price tag which means it isn’t accessible to everyone. If you can’t switch to organic produce, make sure you thoroughly wash all your fruit and veg before eating it. The EWG releases a handy report every year that tells you which produce contains the highest and lowest concentrations of EDCs. Try avoiding the dirty dozen and choose produce that fall into the clean fifteen list instead.  
  4. Filter Your Water. Phthalates, PFAS, and PFCs can be found in water and in the pipes that transport water to our homes. Filtering your water can help remove impurities and make it cleaner to drink. Activated carbon filters have been shown to be particularly effective at doing this. 
  5. Reduce Canned Goods. Most cans are lined with BPA and the chemicals used in ‘BPA-free’ cans may actually be worse for your health. Opt for fresh or frozen fruit and veggies and look for items that come in glass or cardboard packaging over cans.
  6. Reduce Fast Food Consumption. Containers like French fry packaging and pizza boxes are often lined with PFCs to help them repel grease. We’re not asking you to give up fast food completely but eating them less frequently will help minimize your EDC exposure.

Babies and Children 

  1. Take Care in Pregnancy. Exposure to EDCs in the womb can have lifelong impacts on children’s health and development. If you’re pregnant be mindful of the chemicals you’re coming into contact with and try to minimize your EDC exposure during this time.
  2. Check Your Baby Bottles. Most baby bottles are now BPA free but if you’ve got a hand-me-down or are reusing bottles from a child you had a few years ago, they may contain BPA. Unfortunately, a lot of BPA-free baby bottles contain the chemical BPS which may also be bad for your baby’s health. If you have any doubts, check with the manufacturer directly or opt for glass alternatives instead. 
  3. Don’t Use Bottle Liners. The plastic liners that line baby bottles contain EDCs that can leach into milk when heated. It’s best to avoid using these completely.
  4. Choose Powdered Formula. The best way to avoid EDC exposure when your baby is young is to breastfeed, however, this isn’t an option for all new parents. If you are using formula, choose powder over liquid as the premade liquid varieties contain a lot more chemicals. Any liquid formula that comes in a can or metal-lined container are best avoided altogether.
  5. How Old are Your Kids’ Toys? Since 2009, a lot of kids’ toys are phthalate-free. Any soft plastic toys made before this time could still contain phthalates though so if you’re kids are playing with toys made before 2009 it might be worth upgrading to a modern alternative. Also, if you’re sourcing your toys from overseas, there’s no guarantee they won’t contain phthalates. This probably isn’t too much of a concern if your kids have grown out of putting their toys in their mouths, but it’s worth thinking about if they still do. 

Personal Care and Cosmetic Products 

  1. Check the Labels. Most phthalate-free personal and cosmetic products will now state it on the packaging. Opt for these products over any products you’re unsure of to lower your exposure. If you’d like to check if your favorite products are phthalate-free, a quick internet search should let you know. 
  2. Keep it Natural. Most non-natural fragrances used in cosmetic products and perfumes will contain phthalates. Look out for fragrance-free alternatives or products that derive their smells from natural source. 
  3. Ingredients to Avoid. Many personal care items like dental floss, nail polish and make up contain EDCs. Avoid products that contain ingredients starting with ‘fluoro’ or ‘perfluoro’ as they’re likely to contain PFCs.
  4. Choose Glass. Wherever possible, try and source cosmetics that come in glass containers as they’re much less likely to contain EDCs than plastic options.

Around the House 

  1. Avoid Water or Stain-Resistant Materials. Although it’s tempting to opt for stain-resistant flooring and furniture, these products are often treated with PFCs, as are water-resistant products like shoes and coats. Try to avoid products that are water or stain-resistant to minimize your contact with these chemicals. 
  2. Check Your Cleaning Products. Fragranced cleaning products are likely to contain phthalates and are best avoided. Reach for natural cleaning products that disclose their full ingredient list to minimize exposure to these nasty chemicals. 
  3. It’s All in the Numbers. The numbers written on the bottom of plastic products can give helpful hints about what chemicals they may contain. Recycling codes 3 and 7 suggest the product may have BPAs or phthalates inside them. Opt for plastics that are labelled with recycling codes 1, 2, or 5 as a better alternative. 
  4. Don’t use Pesticides in Your Garden. Although it might be tempting to reach for a chemical pesticide to get rid of those annoying pests off your plants in your garden, these products contain a lot of EDCs. Swapping to natural, non-toxic alternatives will limit your chemical exposure. 
  5. Ditch the Dust. You may be surprised to hear that a major source of EDCs in the home is dust. Young kids are at a higher risk of swallowing dust so make sure you’re vacuuming and sweeping regularly to get rid of the dust in your home before it can build up and pose a threat to your family’s health. 

Reduce Pollution 

Pollution contains lots of EDCs that can enter your body through the air you breathe. By decreasing the amount of pollution we come into contact with, we can seriously lower our EDC exposure. 

  1. Go Electric. If you need to upgrade your car, why not go electric and help reduce pollution in your local area. Don’t make the switch unless you really need to, though, as the energy required to create the electric car may counteract the pollution you save by running it.
  2. Air Purifiers. If you live somewhere with high pollution levels, an air purifier may be worth the investment to ensure the air you breath at home is as clean as possible.
  3. Wear a Mask. Though we may be sick of wearing them, wearing specialist masks (called particulate masks) on heavy pollution days can help reduce the chemicals that enter your body.
  4. Exercise in Open Spaces. In heavily polluted areas you can come into contact with lots of EDCs in the air you breathe while you work out. If you’re partial to a run or like to go for bike rides, aim to exercise in open green spaces like parks and fields instead of on roads with lots of traffic. 

Conclusion 

We hope you’ve found our list of tips on how to keep your family safe from EDCs helpful. This list may seem a little overwhelming at first but don’t worry, we’re not insisting you make all these changes tomorrow. By slowly introducing swaps and limiting the number of EDC-containing products you use, you’ll be promoting better health for you and your family for life. Even making a few small swaps really can make a big difference.

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