Do you know how many common household items and products are hormone disrupters?
I first started understanding more about hormone (endocrine) disrupters as part of my Functional Nutrition course as one of my assignments was to investigate the effects they have on humans. Essentially endocrine disruptors are compounds external to your body that have the potential to disrupt the hormonal regulation and therefore affect health and reproduction in animals and humans. For the most part they are synthetic chemicals found in everyday products we use.
Unfortunately there are way too many to list here but endocrine disrupters are everywhere from your plastic kitchenware to the couches you sit on and the mattresses you sleep on. Yes you read that right. Most people would be aware of bisphenol A (BPA) in plasticware and the fact most manufacturers are or have removed it because it can leach into your foodstuff. What you may not know though is it is being replaced with other chemicals such as bisphenol S (BPS) which emerging evidence suggests may be just as bad.
And the couch and mattress? Most household furniture and electrical items have flame retardant chemicals within them (polybrominated diphenyl ethers for those of you interested) to reduce the risk of fire. The majority of these are hormone (or endocrine) disrupters. Although work is being done to remove them from being allowed in manufactured and imported goods, we aren’t there yet.
When these hormone disrupting chemicals come in contact with your skin they are able to penetrate and get into your bloodstream. I recently wrote another post on chemicals in skincare that goes into this in more detail.
Its almost impossible to avoid hormone disrupters in your everyday life but here are my top tips for reducing your exposure at home.
Don’t buy or wrap your food in plastic
It never ceases to amaze me how much plastic you can bring home every single week when you shop. So many food stuffs are packaged in plastic. Even fruits and vegetables! Buy them loose.
Then you bring them home and store them in more plastic. I’ve been using the same ‘green’ bags for my shopping for years now. That small investment about 5 years ago has been used nearly 300 times! The place where I do my weekly shopping offers brown paper bags to put your fruit and vegetables and other bulk items into. You can recycle them or reuse them the following week as I’ve seen some people do.
And buy BPA free if you must buy canned food. BPA is used in the inner lining of cans. Chances are if it doesn’t say BPA free on the can, then it isn’t.
I also read recently that if you do have to wrap your food in plastic at home, first wrap in paper towel. At least then the plastic doesn’t touch your food and eventually you.
Nicole Bijlsma has penned an excellent article about why BPA free plastic is not exactly as safe as you think it is. Consider buying glass containers to store your food in.
Don’t wear your shoes inside
You never know what you might bring inside the house on the bottom of your shoes. I’m not talking bacteria here as that’s not always a bad thing. I’m talking about the chemicals that you may have walked on that then stick to the surface of your floor and can transfer to you or your children. Taking your shoes off also helps with the cleaning task!
Source eco friendly furniture and mattresses
There is now a wide range of eco friendly furniture options available. I should know. I just recently bought a new mattress for my son. There are so many different options to choose from when you buy furniture and it can be overwhelming. The choice, the cost, the advertised benefits. I recently discovered that those who are wanting to attract sales to people aware of the environment and their health will advertise how they comply with this. Those who don’t, stay silent and hope most people won’t ask or don’t know and will buy regardless. I had a hard time choosing my sons mattress. I wanted to get the best based on comfort, health and the environment. The choices were a bit overwhelming; organic or not, latex, innerspring, memory foam. And the cost difference! What I found most interesting was the lack of responses I got to my emails when questioning their eco certification (for example GOLS, Certi-Pur® or Oeko-tex®) if it wasn’t on their website. Deafening silence.
I eventually settled on an ergoflex one which is Certi-Pur® & Oeko-Tex® 100 certified. I have a Tempur mattress and it has seriously changed my life. No more lower back pain! The ergoflex is a very similar but less expensive version of the Tempur so was very happy to buy this knowing the comfort I have. And lets not talk about the eco friendliness (or lack thereof) of the Tempur. I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time but sometimes you just make allowances knowing the result you’ll get.
Don’t use non stick cooking products
I wish I knew this one a few years back when we got a brand new set of non stick saucepans and frypans. Perfluorinated chemicals are used to make non-stick cookware as they repel oil and water. In fact they are also used on fabrics for the same effect. These endocrine disrupting chemicals actually then leach into our food when we cook it. There are some great alternatives to non stick such as cast iron, ceramic and stainless steel. One that everyone is raving about at the moment is Solidteknics. I know what’s on my birthday present list!
By just being aware, you can slowly make some changes in your life to help reduce your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals. And I’d love to hear of any other tips you have for reducing the chemical load in your house.