The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment,” says these are the 12 worst hormone-disrupting chemicals.
1. Bisphenol A (BPA)
Found in plastic bottles, baby bottles, children’s toys, medical devices and in the epoxy resin that lines metal cans used for canned vegetables, fruits and, meats.
Found in the fatty tissue of animals and humans come into contact with it when they eat meat, dairy products, fish and, shellfish.
It’s linked to “reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer,” says the WHO.
According to the Pesticides Action Network (PAN), it causes reproductive issues such as increased risk of miscarriage, reduced male fertility, low birth weight, increased chances of any birth defect, and higher incidences of abdominal defects.
PAN reports that there is growing evidence that “exposure has been linked to elevated risk of breast and prostate cancer.”
Phthalates act as binding agents and also make plastics flexible and can be found in “vinyl flooring, adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, automotive plastics, plastic clothes (raincoats), and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes.”
They’re linked to asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, neurodevelopmental issues, behavioral issues, autism spectrum disorders, altered reproductive development and male fertility issues.
Mainly used as oxidizers in propellants for rockets and fireworks. EWG says it can also be found in milk products and produce.
6. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs)
Used as fire retardants so you will find them in building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams, and textiles.
According to EWG, PBDEs can disrupt thyroid activity and have been linked to health effects such as lower IQ. High exposure in rats and mice has led to liver tumors but studies are still ongoing as to whether people can get cancer from PBDE exposure.
“Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Much of our exposure comes from human activities including the use of fossil fuels including past use of leaded gasoline, some types of industrial facilities, and past use of lead-based paint in homes. Lead and lead compounds have been used in a wide variety of products found in and around our homes, including paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, and cosmetics.”
The EWG says lead is linked to brain damage, lower IQ, hearing loss and nervous system problems, and can lower sex hormone levels in animals.
8. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
Based on the 1997 Report to Congress on Mercury, “the highest emitters of mercury to the air include coal-burning electric utilities, municipal waste combustors, commercial and industrial boilers, medical waste incinerators, chlorine manufacturing plants, hazardous waste combustors, and cement manufacturers.”
EWG says mercury interferes with fetal brain development, woman’s ovulation, and can damage cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin.
It’s linked to increased risks of bladder, lung and skin cancers. The element may also interfere with the way the body processes sugars and carbohydrates.
11. Organophosphate pesticides
Organophosphates are the most widely used insecticides today in agriculture, home, gardens, and veterinary practices.
People can be exposed to them by ingesting (eating or drinking) or breathing them or by getting them in your eyes or on your skin or by touching contaminated soils or water.
Some studies in adults and children have linked organophosphate exposure to lymphoma and leukemia. EWG says exposure has negative effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, and can affect testosterone levels.
12. Glycol Ethers
Glycol ethers are used as solvents so you will find them as ingredients in cleaning compounds, liquid soaps, and beauty products.
The EPA says that “acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of the glycol ethers in humans results in narcosis, pulmonary edema, and severe liver and kidney damage. Chronic (long-term) exposure to the glycol ethers in humans may result in neurological and blood effects, including fatigue, nausea, tremor, and anemia.”