You never took the Pill or HRT? That doesn’t mean your hormones can’t be affected by endocrine disruptors. The chemicals are in what you eat and drink, the air you breathe, and products you use, says Nena Baker, author of The Body Toxic.
Studies link endocrine disruptors to everything from infertility in women and lower sperm counts in men to obesity. Pregnant women are of concern because chemicals passed from mother to child may have an impact on the endocrine system, says R. Thomas Zoeller, PhD, a spokesman for The Endocrine Society and a professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Here, the lowdown on where some endocrine disruptors may be hiding.
Pesticides and herbicides can seep into the drinking supply through groundwater, and many of them mimic or interfere with estrogen in the body. One of the biggest potential threats is a herbicide called atrazine. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it’s safe for people to ingest drinking water at levels of 3 parts per billion, some scientists think this “safe” level is way too high. While they duke it out, buy a pitcher, or an under-the-sink or a faucet-mounted carbon-based filter that nabs atrazine.
The chemicals behind those fresh and flowery smells in many household cleaners, air fresheners, and body soaps and lotions often belong to a class of endocrine disruptors called phthalates. Phthalates are so ubiquitousmore than 1 billion tons are made worldwide each yearthey’re present in the blood of up to 97 percent of Americans. Studies link phthalate exposure to hormone disruption, particularly genital abnormalities of baby boys whose moms were exposed, and lower sperm counts in men. Many major cosmetics companies are phasing out phthalates; to find out if they’re in your favorite products, visit CosmeticsDatabase.com.