The dangers of endocrine disruptors, also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), found in thousands of everyday products such as plastic, fragrances, and some multi-level marketing products, are not something most people are aware of. But scientists have calculated exactly how expensive the health complications from endocrine disruptors are, and it’s shocking. A team at NYU Langone has calculated that figure and the numbers are frightening. They estimate that the health issues that EDCs cause cost families in the U.S. about $340 billion a year!
If you’re wondering how the researchers came up with this number, you’re not alone. Researchers reviewed blood and urine samples from a national survey looking for disease, and have been collecting that data since 2009. Computer modeling then helped them to determine which diseases and conditions could be related to EDC exposure. As a result, they estimated probable health costs for those diseases.
Of course, this is not a perfect system. The American Chemical Society, which has long been defensive about the safety of plastics and other chemical products, denies the claim, saying that the research is “baseless”. However, a similar study was done in the European Union last year, and that figure came to $271 billion for overseas patients – not too far off the NYU study. It makes sense when you realize how many of these EDCs are found in and around the typical family home.
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What Are EDCs And Where Are They Found?
What is an EDC? The National Health Institute division of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defines EDCs as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.”
In other words, EDCs can interfere with or block your body’s natural hormones, as well as mimic them. This, in turn, can damage your cells or their ability to function or develop properly, and that can have a lifelong effect, leading to death or disability.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health just recently hosted a panel with scientific experts that we thought you would find useful in explaining what EDCs are and why you should avoid them. This panel is specifically covering the infertility and pregnancy issues surrounding EDCs.
Where can you find EDCs? Some common EDCs that you may find in your house include:
- BPA (Bisphenol A): Found in reusable water bottles, cans, food containers and tap water. It’s very likely that BPA is lurking in your pantry!
- Phthalates: Found in disposable water bottles, cosmetics, bath and beauty products, food packaging, fragrances, children’s products, and some medical devices.
- PCBs: These industrial solvents are now illegal, but have polluted the earth. Contaminated fish is most common source of PBCs, but it can also be found in water or soil. PCBs are also linked to autism.
- PDBEs: Found in flame-retardants, primarily on furniture.
- Certain pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.
- Glycol Ethers / NPEs: Cleaning products, like laundry detergent, contain these chemicals.
- Triclosan: The FDA has ordered this to be removed from bath products, but it remains in a few toothpaste products.
- Phytoestrogens: These occur naturally in food. A common one is genistein, a component of soy. While most American consumers don’t consume enough to do harm, research has shown potential harm for vulnerable populations like pregnant women and babies.
The Dangers Of Endocrine Disruptors
EDCs, while common, can be very harmful to you and your children, your health and your property. Here is a list of some of the dangers they can pose.
Research shows that endocrine disruptors are linked to the following medical conditions:
- Abnormal genital deformity in boys
- Reproductive and developmental abnormalities
- Obesity. Recent studies link weight problems in children to prenatal exposure to BPAs.
- EDCs may be linked to breast, thyroid and prostate cancer
- Male infertility
- Endometriosis, for which there is no cure
Scientists have linked EDCs to some very specific neurological problems, particularly in children:
Protecting Your Family From EDCs
Parents need to be aware of their children are breathing in and putting in their mouths – and how often. These are some of our top tips for avoiding the dangers of endocrine disruptors in your home. Don’t forget that you may want to remove any plastics that your child frequently puts in his mouth as well, such as plastic toys.
- Buy personal care, bath and beauty products that are free of triclosan, parabens and phthalates.
- Buy furniture that is free of flame-retardants.
- Avoid toxic fragrances in your bath and beauty products.
- Eliminate plastic containers and other products from your kitchen.
- Use safe stainless steel water bottles.
- Switch to organic lawn care solutions.
- Avoid soy products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, and avoid soy-based baby formula for your child if possible.
- Purchase seafood with caution.
- Eliminate canned foods from your pantry.
- Use a high quality water filtration system.
- Use natural cleaning solutions for cleaning and laundry, such as apple cider vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.
- Eat low fat dairy.
Common sense precautions like these can go a long way to safeguarding your family from the dangers of endocrine disruptors.
Are there any things in your home that you have swapped out to avoid EDCs? Are there any products you are unsure of? Let us know in the comment section. We can help!