Endocrine disruptors are chemicals known to interfere with the functions of our endocrine glands. These glands include the pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, thymus, pancreas, ovaries, and testes. When functioning optimally, our endocrine system releases carefully-measured amounts of hormones into the bloodstream. They that act as natural chemical messengers, traveling to different parts of the body in order to control and adjust many life functions.
Altering these precise systems is playing with fire. Endocrine disruptors block hormonal signals in your body or interfere with the way the hormones or receptors are made or controlled. This leads to health issues such as:
- prostate cancer in men
- breast and/or ovarian cancer in women
- ADHD in children
- skin disorders
- sleep disorders
- weight gain
How often are you exposed to these toxic chemicals in St. Petersburg? Probably far more often than you think, as they can happen on a daily basis when you use “normal” products in your home. Below are the top 10 common sources of endocrine disruptors, as well as what you can do about them.
Personal Care Products
Shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, cosmetics, and other personal care products often contain endocrine disruptors. These chemicals include phthalates, BPA, BHT, triclosan. These are a group of “gender-bending” chemicals causing males of many species to become more female. One 2002 study by the Environmental Working Group found these chemicals in nearly three-quarters of personal care products tested. Switching to safer, non-toxic care products and cosmetics from St. Petersburg stores will help you avoid such exposures.
Your drinking water in St. Petersburg may be contaminated with atrazine, arsenic, and perchlorate. All of these are endocrine disruptors. Filtering your water, both at your tap and your shower/bath, using a high-quality water filtration system can help protect you and your family.
In an analysis of 252 canned food brands, 78 are still using bisphenol-A (BPA) in their canned goods. Yet, BPA is one of the known endocrine disruptors. BPA is linked to a number of health concerns. These concerns are particularly in pregnant women, fetuses and young children, but also in adults, including:
- increased prostate size
- decreased sperm production
- ovarian dysfunction
- disrupted reproductive cycle
- increased fat production
- altered immune function
BPA coats about 75 percent of cans in North America. If you eat canned foods, it’s likely a major source of BPA exposure for you. Ideally, buy products that come in glass bottles and jars rather than plastic or cans from stores in St. Petersburg
Conventionally Grown Produce
Pesticides, herbicides, and industrial runoff may coat your conventionally grown produce in endocrine disruptors. As much as possible, buy and eat organic produce and free-range, organic foods in St. Petersburg. This reduces your exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.
CAFO Meats, Poultry & Dairy Products
Conventional farms where animals are raised on concentrated animal feeding operations are also known as CAFOs. Animals coming from these farms typically contain antibiotics, hormones, and other industrial chemicals. These chemicals may increase endocrine disruptors. I often say: when an animal is raised to grow bigger, fatter, faster and you eat a by-product from this animal, you too will grow bigger, fatter, faster! Look for animal products that are free-range, organic and raised on small, local St. Petersburg farms that avoid the use of such chemicals.
High Mercury Fish in St. Petersburg
Fish contaminated with high levels of mercury and other heavy metals are problematic. Such metals also disrupt hormonal balance. Shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, and tilefish are among the worst offenders. Even tuna faces contamination from dangerously high levels. Farmed fish (think the “CAFOS of the sea”) also tend to be higher in contaminants and are better off avoided. When eating seafood in St. Petersburg, choose smaller fish like sardines, anchovies, and herring. They tend to be low in contaminants like endocrine disruptors and high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Commercial solutions used to clean your St. Petersburg home typically contain industrial chemicals that may throw your hormones out of whack. For instance, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), is a common ingredient in laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaners. However, it is banned in Europe and known as a potent endocrine disrupter, causing male fish to transform into females. It’s easy to create your own cleaning products at home using vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and even coconut oil. Find tips for greener cleaning here.
Plastic containers and non-stick cookware are common in many kitchens are another type of hazards. The plastic containers may contain BPA or other endocrine-disrupting chemicals that can leach into your food. This is especially likely if you heat the plastic. Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used to create non-stick, stain-resistant, and water-repellant surfaces are also toxic and highly persistent, both in your body and in the environment.
When heated, non-stick cookware releases perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). This shows links to infertility, thyroid disorders, and developmental and reproductive problems. Healthier options include ceramic and enameled cast iron cookware. Both options are durable and easy to clean (even the toughest cooked-on foods wipe away after soaking it in warm water). They are also completely inert, which means they won’t release any harmful chemicals into your home.
Office Supplies Carry Endocrine Disruptors
Ink cartridges, toner, and other common office solvents are another common source of endocrine disruptors. Handle such products with care and minimize your exposure as much as possible.
Cash Register Receipts
Thermal paper has a coating that turns black after applying heat. The printer in a cash register applies heat to the paper, allowing it to print numbers and letters. It also contains BPA, and research shows that handling this type of paper is enough to increase your bodily levels. Holding the paper for just five seconds was enough to transfer BPA onto a person’s skin. The amount of BPA transferred increases by about 10 times if the fingers were wet or greasy (such as if you’ve just applied lotion or eaten greasy food).
Try to limit or avoid carrying receipts in your wallet or purse, as it appears the chemical is transferring onto other surfaces it touches. Wash your hands after handling receipts and currency. Also, avoid handling them if you’ve just put on lotion or have any other greasy substance on your hands. If you’re a cashier or bank teller in St. Petersburg who handles such papers often, you may want to wear gloves. This is especailly important if you’re pregnant or of child-bearing age.