Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)
As parents, we work hard to protect our children from the harm that we can see, and imagine, but what of the harms we can’t see? Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are one of those hidden dangers, lurking everywhere, and posing risks not only to our children but to ourselves.
Exposure to EDCs is linked to a growing list of health problems and complex diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, early puberty, infertility, obesity, ADD, lowered IQ, and more.
What are EDCs? They are chemicals that mimic hormones and interfere with our bodies’ endocrine system, the system responsible for everything from growth and development to organ function to mood and metabolism. Children are the most vulnerable to the ill effects of these chemicals.
There are hundreds of thousands of man-made chemicals on the market, and about 1000 may have endocrine disrupting properties. Common ones include:
- Pesticides (in particular, Glyphosate-based pesticides)
- Phthalates found in soft plastics and personal care products
- Bisphenol A (BPA) found in the linings of some canned foods and beverage containers, and in thermal store receipts
- Parabens found in personal care products
- Perfluorochemicals found in non-stick cookware
- Brominated flame retardants, found in some electronics, furniture, and building materials
Because children eat and drink more relative to their body weight, they take in more toxins through their food and water. They spend more time crawling or lying on the ground, where toxic chemicals can be found. Their skin is more absorbent, so toxic chemicals are more readily absorbed. And young kids put their fingers and toys in their mouths, increasing exposure.
The liver, which works to package up toxins for excretion, and the kidneys, which filter the toxins out through our urine, are still developing in young children, and therefore not able to keep up with the modern world’s high toxin load. And young children have lower levels of the enzymes necessary for metabolizing hazardous environmental chemicals.
So what can parents do to reduce their child’s risk of EDC exposure? Well, there’s a list, of course!
- Only use natural organic pesticides, and none containing glyphosate or chlorpyrifos
- Avoid plastic wrap made from PVC (look for recycling #3)
- Avoid when possible plastic food containers
- Look for toys and cups and sippy-cups that are labeled phthalate-free
- Minimize eating out...restaurants are a notorious source of EDCs (which is why teens have the highest blood levels of EDCs of any age group)
- Make certain your personal care products (nail polish, shampoos, lotions, conditioners, et al) are phthalate-free and paraben-free
- Personal care products that contain “fragrance” (without specifying what types) likely contain phthalates, so avoid them.
- Store your leftovers in glass or stainless steel containers
- Eat fresh or frozen foods when possible
- Avoid hand-me-down toys
- Avoid touching thermal paper receipts (the ones that are slick and a bit shiny)
- Eat as much organic food as you can!
- Replace plastic lunch baggies with reusable cloth ones, or use glass containers in lunch boxes
- And so much more!