EWG’s Dirty Dozen Hormone-Altering Chemicals
BPA in plastics is linked to breast and others cancers, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease.
Eat fresh rather than canned food. Avoid thermal paper receipts, as well as plastics marked with a “PC” or recycling label #7.
Dioxins, which form during many industrial processes when chlorine or bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen, accumulate in the body and disrupt male and female sex hormone signaling.
Reduce exposure by eating fewer animal products.
Even low levels of the herbicide atrazine, used on the majority of U.S. corn crops, can turn male frogs into females. Pervasive in drinking water, it has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals. Some research links it to prostate cancer in humans.
Buy organic produce and purchase a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
Phthalates, which can trigger “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, are linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities.
Avoid plastic food containers, children’s toys and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label. Read personal care product labels and avoid products that list added “fragrance”.
Perchlorate in rocket fuel contaminates much of our produce, milk and drinking water. It competes with iodine needed by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones.
Install a reverse osmosis filter, eat organic and make sure your diet includes iodine.
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs in fire retardants imitate thyroid hormones and disrupt their activity.
PBDEs are nearly impossible to avoid. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and avoid reupholstering foam furniture. Use caution when replacing old carpet; padding may contain PBDEs.
Lead, especially toxic to children, harms almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to an array of health effects.
Carefully remove crumbling old paint. Use a good water filter.
In food and drinking water, arsenic interferes with normal hormone functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how the body process sugars and carbohydrates.
Use a water filter that lowers arsenic levels.
Mercury, which enters the air and oceans primarily though burning coal, ends up on dinner plates in the form of mercury-contaminated seafood. It binds directly to a hormone that regulates women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation, interfering with normal signaling pathways. It’s also been shown to damage insulin-producing cells critical for the body’s ability to metabolize sugar.
Eat only sustainably raised or wild caught seafood with lots of healthy fats.
Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
Perfluorinated chemicals used to make non-stick cookware are widespread. Exposure is linked to sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney and thyroid disease, high-cholesterol and health issues.
Skip non-stick pans, as well as stain and water-resistant coatings on clothing, furniture and carpets.
Despite studies linking neurotoxic organophosphate compound exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility, they are still among the more common pesticides used today.
Buy organic produce and use EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
In studies, glycol ethers, common solvents in paints, cleaning products, brake fluids and cosmetics, shrink rat testicles. Children exposed had substantially more asthma and allergies.
(Visit ewg.org/guides/cleaners) and avoid products with ingredients such as 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME).