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The American Home is a Chemical Minefield

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Open your cleaning supply closet and grab any bottle in there. 

Flip it over and read the list of chemicals contained.

Do you recognize any of those names?

And if you don’t recognize the names, is it remotely possible that you know how those chemicals are affecting you?

Some years back, experts in their areas formed a collective called Project Tendr, dedicated to exposing the neurodevelopmental affect that household chemicals have on unsuspecting families. Among the experts were environmental epidemiologists, professors of environmental health,  and other doctors, scientists, and policy advocates. 

Since then, other organizations have gotten on board…

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics came forward to discuss toxic environmental chemicals’ effect on reproduction. The Endocrine Society, dedicated to researching hormones, came to the same conclusions. 

The scariest part is…

These chemicals are in everything. They’re in your food, plastics, cookware, carpets, tech, shampoo, food wrap, furniture, cleaning supplies, shampoo…

And while they cover a multitude of sins, today we’re going to focus on endocrine-disruptors.

Endocrine-disruptors: chemicals that interfere with hormonal systems at certain doses. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, developmental disorders, reproductive issues, neurological diseases, and immune system effects. 

They work by mimicking hormones that occur naturally in the body (leading to overstimulation), binding to receptors within cells and blocking the hormone from binding with other cells (preventing the normal signal and response within the body), or interfering with regular hormone production (altering its behavior or metabolism.)

There are lots of repeat offenders in the house — even contained in household names that your family may have been using for years unknowingly.

It’s important to identify which chemicals are causing which kind of harm in order to demine the minefield that is the modern Western home.

This first one, you’re probably familiar with…

Bisphenol A (BPA)

This industrial chemical has been used in plastics and resins since the 1960s — specifically the kind often used to make water bottles and store food (like tin cans). 

BPA is a mimicker. It tricks the body into thinking it’s estrogen. Thus, it’s been linked to breast cancer, reproductive maladies, obesity, heart disease, early puberty, and more. 

Because it’s so common in America, the government estimates that 93% of Americans have BPA in their systems.

Dioxin

Another industrially-released chemical, dioxin is largely contained in food supply. Meat, fish, milk, eggs, and butter are usually the contaminated culprits.

Exposure to dioxin early in life or in the womb has been linked to reproductive issues in men and women, including lower sperm count for men. Not only that, but since they live for a long time and build up in the body…

They also affect our immune system and ability to fight diseases.

Glycol Ethers

Most often found in paints, cleaning products (because they cut grease well), brake fluid, and make-up. 

The EU recently ruled that these solvents can cause blood abnormalities, lower sperm counts, damage fertility, and possibly harm fetuses.

Even exposure from having glycol-ether-paint on children’s bedroom walls has been linked to asthma and allergies. 

Phthalates

This endocrine disruptor interferes with certain hormonal signallers in the body. Specifically, they send “death” signals to testicular cell, which has linked them to hormone changes, lower sperm count, sperm with lowered mobility, male reproductive systems with birth defects, thyroid issues, diabetes, and lower metabolisms.

They’re often found in plastics, when something contains “fragrance” as an ingredient, toys, plastic wrap, and personal care products.

Atrazine

Atrazine is an herbicide, but it’s also an endocrine disruptor. In fact, it’s been found to turn male frogs female, complete with egg production, from even low levels of exposure.

It’s most commonly used on corn crops in the U.S., which is the largest crop in America. 91.7 million acres of corn were planted in 2019. And atrazine keeps that crop safe.

Because it’s used as an herbicide primarily, it also contaminates drinking water. It’s been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty, prostate inflammation, and prostate cancer. 

Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)

It’s been estimated that 99% of American bodies contain PFCs. And some strains are not biodegradable — meaning they’re forever chemicals. They never dissolve into organic compounds. 

PFCs, specifically PFOA (a degrade-resistant strain), affect sperm quality, kidney disease, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, low birth weight, and other serious afflictions.

They’re usually found in non-stick pans and water-resistant coatings on carpets, furniture, and clothing.

These chemicals are insidious.

They are everywhere.

And they’ll mostly be found altering the natural characteristics of something — as in making something water-resistant that isn’t, or changing the properties of grease.

Be on the lookout for an article soon discussing how to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals. 

There’s always a way, but as with anything in the modern world, it pays to be conscious. 

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