Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC’s) remain a hot topic in the area of inflammation. EDC’s are an exogenous chemical or mixture of chemicals that interfere with hormone action including increased, inhibited or altered hormone synthesis (Zoeller et al., 2012). Simply, EDC’s are common environmental pollutants that can lead to disruption of the endocrine and immune systems.
Public health concerns have mounted for some common substances including arsenic, detergents, drinking water, herbicides, lead, pesticides, plastics and tobacco smoke (Schug et al., 2016). EDC exposure to these chemicals is linked to a host of unintended consequences including altered metabolism and hormone function, birth defects, cancers, infertility, altered sexual function, neurologic disease, premature birth and thyroid disruption.
Given the potent and often irreversible effects of exposure to EDC’s, reducing exposure is essential. Here are some simple things you can do:
Focus on Hygiene. Washing your hands, dusting and vacuuming are simple measures to reduce exposure. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter can reduce exposure to common chemicals that accumulate in the home (i.e. lead, fluorinated chemicals). Do not introduce harsh chemical pollutants into your home. A simple solution of vinegar and water is an effective and safer option.
Avoid products with fragrance. Phthalates are commonly found in fragrance and can disrupt hormones. Choose fragrance-free creams, laundry detergents, cleaning products, garbage bags, and diapers. This is especially important for children who are exposed to lotions, bubbles, glitter and polishes that contain numerous EDC’s.
Avoid plastics that often contain phthalates and biphenyl-A (commonly known as BPA). Swap plastic water bottles with reusable non-plastic water bottles. Replace plastic storage containers with glass, metal or paper-containers. Replace plastic cling wrap with beeswax coated cloth. Never microwave plastic containers or cling wrap. Swap non-stick pots and pans for cast iron or stainless.
Be contentious of what you eat and drink. Do not consume canned products that are often lined with BPA to reduce corrosion. Eat organic. Organically grown products have the least amount of pesticide residue. Filter your tap water.
Let’s all do our part to purchase products from companies that disclose their ingredients and look for the Safer Choice Label. Over 2,000 products currently qualify to carry the Safer Choice Label (Environmental Protection Agency, October 4, 2021). Speak up so that companies, agencies and policy makers ensure that toxic and inflammatory chemicals like EDCs, phthalates, and fluorinated chemicals stay out of our food, water, homes, schools, offices and public venues.
Dr. Shanna Greminger
Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
Schug, T. T., Johnson, A. F. Birnbaum, L. S., Colborn, T., Guillette, L. J. Crews, D. P., … & Heindel, J. J. (2016). Minireview: Endocrine disruptors: Past lessons and future directions. Molecular Endocrinology 30, 833–847. doi: 10.1210/me.2016-1096
Zoeller R. T., Brown, T. R., Doan, L. L., Gore, A. C., Skakkebaek, N. E., & Soto, A. M. (2012). Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and public health protection: a statement of principles from The Endocrine Society. Endocrinology, 153(9), 4097– 4110. doi: 10.1210/en.2012-1422.
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts.