Our homes are our safe havens. A place where we can relax and leave the day behind. But in our homes are an estimated 500+ chemicals that we coexist with, many of which are having a negative effect on our hormones. Yes, what we wash our dishes in, clean our floors with and put on our skin all contribute to our hormonal balance.
If you’re working with a practitioner to balance your hormones and not considering the endocrine disruptors in your home, you may be missing out. In this article, we’ll tell you where the most common endocrine disruptors are hidden in your household products and how to avoid them.
What are endocrine disruptors and why should I care?
Endocrine disruptors can be naturally occurring or man-made compounds that enter our bodies through our skin, the air we breath or the food we eat. Once they’re in our bodies they wreak havoc on our hormonal systems by either mimicking our hormones, blocking them from doing their job, or causing our bodies to over or under produce hormones. This can lead to several unwanted hormonal issues.
Endocrine disruptors not only affect our reproductive organs, but all major biological functions. Our mood, metabolism, sleep, and hunger levels are all driven by our hormones. Endocrine disruptors interfere with this hormonal signaling and have been linked to infertility, birth defects, thyroid conditions, PCOS, endometriosis and lowered IQ (to name a few).
Here are the most common endocrine disruptors in household products
Bisphenol A (BPA)
Did you know that before BPA was used to make plastic it was created as a synthetic estrogen? BPA has had a long history of regulatory back and forth. It’s now banned for use in children’s products in several countries for being a potent developmental toxin at very low doses. It has been linked to hormonal cancers, early puberty, and behavioral disorders.
BPA-Free seems to be everywhere, but evidence suggests that BPA replacements such as BPS or BPF are as equally if not more harmful than BPA.
BPA in your home:
- Plastic water bottles and tupperware
- Canned foods
- Plastic cooking utensils
- Receipt paper
- Food packaging and takeout containers
How to avoid BPA:
- Switch to a stainless steel water bottle
- Use glass tupperware
- Do not reheat food in plastic containers
- Use stainless steel cooking utensils
- Avoid canned foods - opt for tomato sauce in glass jars, and dried beans instead of canned
Phthalates are used to make plastic more flexible and to make scents last longer in perfumes and cosmetics. The controversies around the ingredient “fragrance” on a product label is due to phthalates. The ingredient “fragrance” can represent tens or hundreds of chemicals that the company is not required by law to disclose. It’s considered a company trade secret and therefore, we can never truly know whether the product contains phthalates or not.
Companies will try to move around this issue by using an asterix (*) after the word fragrance and labeling “fragrance from natural sources*”. This means nothing, as the company still hasn’t told us which chemicals make up their fragrance.
Phthalates in your home:
- Cosmetics with “fragrance” on the label
- Air fresheners
- Scented candles
- Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
- Scented garbage bags
- Switfter wet jet or other floor cleaners
- Cleaning products
- Period products (phthalates help make pads flexible and comfortable)
- Vinyl flooring
- Dish soap
How to avoid phthalates:
- Use fragrance-free cosmetics
- Dust and vacuum frequently - phthalates were found in 90% of household dust samples
- Do not use products with “fragrance” on the label
- Do not use air fresheners or scented candles - try beeswax candles instead
- Chose unscented laundry detergents - put a few drops of essential oils on a dryer ball for scent
- Choose non-toxic cleaning products like Branch Basics
Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
PFAS represents a large class of chemicals used for many industrial purposes. They’re known as “forever chemicals” because they never break down in the environment.
In June 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency released new health advisories for two types of PFAS chemicals. The health advisory was reduced from 70 parts per trillion in 2016 to 0.004 and 0.02 parts per trillion. That’s an insane reduction and just goes to show how even tiny doses of endocrine disrupting chemicals can have negative effects.
PFAS have been shown to cause birth defects, harm to the liver, infertility, obesity, hormone suppression and certain cancers.
PFAS in your home:
- Stain and water resistant clothing - ex. rain coats
- Table cloths
- Shower curtain
- Some period underwear - we recommend Aisle period underwear
- Non-stick pans or other non-stick cooking utensils
- Waterproof mattress cover
- Stain resistant children's products
- Drinking tap or unfiltered water
- Microwavable popcorn
- Some cosmetics
- Takeout food containers
- Dental floss
- Waterproof mascara
How to avoid PFAS:
- Go for cast iron or stainless steel cookware - don’t be fooled by cookware that says “PFAS or PFOA-Free”. The non-stick coating has likely just been replaced with another type of PFAS chemical.
- Use a good quality water filter
- Reduce stain resistant coatings
- Avoid cosmetics that have PTFE or “perfluor” on the label
- Make sure your period underwear has been tested for PFAS - we like Aisle products for this reason
- Avoid dental floss that has been treated with PFAS. Here’s a list of brands that tested positive for PFAS: CVS Health EaseBetween SuperSlip Dental Floss Waxed, Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Mint and Glide Pro-Health Original, Crest Glide Deep Clean Cool Mint Floss, Safeway Signature Care Mint Waxed Comfort Floss, and Colgate Total Dental Floss Mint
- Pop your own popcorn - the old fashion way. It’s fun!
Heavy metals seem like something of the past, but unfortunately a wide range of personal care and other household goods still contain heavy metals. Some heavy metals are necessary for proper bodily function, and get filtered out through urine. But when we’re exposed to too much, these metals accumulate in various organs and tissues and can have serious effects.
Some heavy metals are added to cosmetics to serve as colorants. For example, iron oxides are common in eye shadows, blush and concealers. Aluminum compounds are common in deodorant, lipsticks and nail polish. Heavy metal exposure can lead to brain, kidney and developmental problems for the developing fetus.
Heavy metals in your home:
- Plates, bowls and mugs - the glaze or coating on these items can contain cadmium, lead, nickel and cobalt.
- Cosmetics - lipstick, toothpaste, eye makeup, nail polish, blush, foundation
- Food - rice, fish
- Drinking tap or unfiltered water
- Treated wood
- Costume jewelry - can contain high levels of cadmium or lead
How to avoid heavy metals:
- Check how your ceramic dishes are made to ensure there’s no heavy metals in the coating
- Check your cosmetic label for: lead acetate, chromium, thimerosal, hydrogenated cottonseed oil, sodium hexametaphosphate, iron oxide, aluminum compounds.
- Avoid color cosmetics as much as possible, especially if you’re pregnant
- Filter your drinking water
- Consider asking your children to put off wearing colored makeup during puberty and reduce the amount of costume jewelry they wear
- Stick to the small fish - larger fish bioaccumulate mercury
It may feel overwhelming to reduce the endocrine disruptors in your home, we felt the same way when we first learned about them! Remember that the small things you do every day matter for your hormonal health. One of the easiest places to avoid endocrine disruptors is in your personal care routine. The Oliver Daily Care Cream is free of all known or suspected endocrine disrupting ingredients and was formulated for your hormonal health.