Top Endocrine Disrupters


Environmental toxins are unfortunately normal in this day and age. We would like to believe that exposures are limited to chemical cleaning sprays, industrial pollutants and round up. But in reality, every human being is exposed to environmental toxins daily.

This idea can feel devastating and overwhelming. How do we protect ourselves and our loved ones if we are being exposed even when we don’t know?

The biggest thing we can all do is DECREASE our exposure. We do this by making conscious choices in the products we purchase, the places we eat, and lifestyle choices we make.

The following are the most common endocrine disrupters. What that means is that these chemicals negatively impact our hormones. Hormones are not important only with newly menstruating teens or women in menopause. Hormones control almost every bodily function. So this information is crucial to health and longevity.


What is it?

BPA (bisphenol-A) is a chemical that is added to many commercial products, including food containers and hygiene products. It was first discovered in the 1890s, but chemists in the 1950s realized that it could be mixed with other compounds to produce strong and resilient polycarbonate plastics. These days, BPA-containing plastics are commonly used in food containers, baby bottles and other things. BPA is also used to make epoxy resins, which are put on the inner lining of canned food containers to keep the metal from corroding and breaking.

Why is it bad?

BPA is said to mimic the structure and function of the hormone estrogen. Due to its estrogen-like shape, BPA can bind to estrogen receptors and influence bodily processes, such as growth, cell repair, fetal development, energy levels and reproduction. In addition, BPA may also have the ability to interact with other hormone receptors, such as thyroid hormone receptors, thus altering their function.

Common products with the most BPA

● Items packaged in plastic containers.

● Canned foods.

● Toiletries.

● Feminine hygiene products.

● Thermal printer receipts.

● CDs and DVDs.

● Household electronics.

● Eyeglass lenses.

● Sports equipment.

● Dental filling sealants.

It’s worth noting that many manufacturers have now switched to BPA-free products, in which BPA has been replaced by bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF). However, recent research reports that even small concentrations of BPS and BPF may disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA. Thus, BPA-free bottles may not be the solution. Plastic items labeled with the recycling numbers 3 and 7 or the letters “PC” likely contain BPA, BPS or BPF.

How to avoid it?

Go Fresh instead of canned - many food cans are lined with BPA. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA. Avoid plastics marked with a “PC” (polycarbonate) or recycling label #3 or #7.


What is it?

Dioxin is an organic chemical that consists of a pair of benzene rings. They form during many industrial processes when chlorine and bromine are burned in the presence of carbon and oxygen. Because of the chemical stability and it’s ability to dissolve into fat tissue it can exist in the body for year.

Why is it bad?

Dioxin can disrupt the way that both male and female sex hormone signaling occurs in the body. Research has shown that exposure to low levels of dioxin in the womb and early life can permanently affect sperm quality and lower the sperm count in men during their prime reproductive years. Dioxins are very long lived. They do not degrade in the environment and exist indefinitely once released. They are in food chain and are powerful carcinogens and can also affect the immune and reproductive systems.

Common products with the most Dioxin

● Dairy products

● Meat

● Fish

● Shellfish

● Bleached products

● Antibacterial products

● Pesticides and herbicides

How to avoid it?

● Reduce your consumption of animal products. If you are following the Inside Out diet recommendations of 75% veggies you will decreasing the amount of animal products you are consuming.

● Eat organically grown fruits and veggies. Pesticide and herbicide residues harbor dioxin.

● When cleaning, avoid chlorine bleach. It forms dioxin after contact with organic compounds.

● Avoid products with triclosan, an antibacterial agent. It degrades into dioxin.

● When you make and drink coffee (hopefully as a special treat), use unbleached coffee filters, metal filters or a french press. Dioxin is a by product of the bleaching process.

● Avoid bleached paper products like tampons, sanitary pads, toilet paper, diapers, etc. Remember that what you touch with your skin goes straight into your bloodstream.


What is it?

Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the USA and Australia. It was banned in 2004 in the European Union. It is used especially on corn and sugarcane crops, as well as turf such as golf courses and lawns. In 2001, it was the most commonly detected herbicide in drinking water in the US.

Why is it bad?

Research has found that low levels of atrazine can turn male frogs into females that produce completely viable eggs. A few studies have found connections between atrazine and higher rates of some birth defects, breast tumors, delayed puberty, and prostate inflammation in animals. Some research has linked it to prostate cancer in humans.

Common products with the most Atrazine

● Non-organic produce

● Drinking water :-(

How to avoid it?

Buy organic produce and use a drinking water filter that is certified to remove atrazine. (Pur 2 Stage water filter is one of them)


What is it?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride is made softer and more flexible by adding phthalates. Phthalates are used in hundreds of consumer products.

Why is it bad?

Phthalates have been linked to “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells. In a normal healthy body it is completely normal for 50 billion cells to be signaled by a specific program to die. Phthalates make cells die earlier than they should...especially in your man parts. They have also been linked to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes, and thyroid irregularities.

Common products with the most phthalates

● Low level exposure can happen through air, food, and water

● Cosmetics

● Personal care products

● Cleaning products

● Plastic and vinyl products

● Food packaged in plastic containing phthalates

● Recently installed floor containing phthalates

● Vinyl blinds and wallpaper

● Tubing for dialysis and blood transfusions

How to avoid it?

● Avoid plastic food containers

● Avoid giving young children that chew on things plastic toys

● Stop using plastic wrap with PVC (recycling #3)

● Read cosmetic labels….avoid products that just list “fragrance”...this is a catch all term that sometimes means hidden phthalates

● Avoid vinyl flooring and other vinyl household products


What is it?

Perchlorate is a toxic chemical commonly used in rocket fuel, explosiveness, fireworks, batteries, bleaches, fertilizers, and airbags...and much much more.

Why is it bad?

Perchlorate is horrible for human health and is a poison for the environment. According the the EPA, perchlorate is detrimental to the thyroid gland, metabolism, and hormonal balance. When perchlorate gets into your body it competes with the nutrient iodine, which is needed to make thyroid hormones. So if you ingest too much perchlorate you end up with a major imbalance.

Common products with Perchlorate

● Lakes, groundwater, tap water, bottled water (due to rampant industrial pollution)

● Food supply

How to avoid it?

● Install a reverse osmosis water filter. I have been eyeing this one.

● Near impossible to avoid it in food. Best way to combat it is to make sure you have enough iodine in your diet.

Fire Retardants

What is it?

A fire retardant is a substance that reduces flammability of fuels or delays their combustion. They are also known as Polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs. PBDEs have been used in a wide array of products including building material, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles, airplanes, plastics, polyurethane foams and textiles.

What is it bad?

In 1999, Swedish scientist studying breast milk found PBDE. The levels have been found to be doubling every five years since 1972. This endocrine disrupting chemical has even been found in wildlife. These chemicals imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity. It has also been shown to damage the reproductive system and cause deficits in motor skills, learning, memory and behavior. PBDEs are incredibly persistent as are going to be contaminating people and animals for decades to come.

Common products with flame retardants:

● Foam made before 2005 is the most dangerous

● Furniture

● Computers

● Car seats

● Diaper changing pads

● Portable crib mattresses

● Nursing pillows

● Cell phones and other electronics

How to avoid it?

● Virtually impossible to completely avoid it. But can reduce exposure…

● Research baby products prior to purchase

● When purchasing new couch buy one without fire retardants

● If you reupholster your couch, replace the foam as well

● Vacuum with a HEPA filter

● Be careful removing old carpeting


What is it?

Lead is a soft, blue gray metal. It occurs naturally but much of its presence in the environment stems from its historic use in paint and gasoline and from ongoing and historic mining and commercial operations.

Why is it bad?

Lead toxicity can harm almost every organ system in the body and has been linked to a variety of health issues such as brain damage, lowered IQ, hearing loss, miscarriage, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and issues with the nervous system. Lead is especially toxic of children and babies. In animals, lead has been found to lower sex hormone levels and can disrupt the hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress system (called the HPA axis). This endocrine dysfunction leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety, and depression.

Common products with Lead:

● Paint (older homes, old toys, furniture, crafts)

● Dust & soil

● Drinking water

● Lead glazed ceramics, china, leaded crystal, and pewter

● Imported candies or foods

● Imported food in cans

● Car batteries

● Radiators

● Some inks

How to avoid it?

● Keep your home clean and well maintained

● Get a good water filter

● A clean healthy diet (studies have shown kids that eat well absorb less lead)

● Don’t buy foods from China and other countries unless you trust the brand


What is it?

Arsenic is an element found in nature, and in man-made products, including some pesticides. Low levels of arsenic are found in soil, water and air. The element is taken up by plants as they grow. Naturally arsenic makes its way into our food.

Why is it bad?

Arsenic can outright kill you if you ingest enough of it. In smaller amounts, it can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer. It also interferes with normal hormones functioning in the glucocorticoid system that regulates how our bodies process sugars and carbs. This disruption is linked to protein wasting, immunosuppression, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, growth retardation and high blood pressure.

Common products with Arsenic:

● Rice and rice products

● Brussel sprouts

● Beer and wine

● Water

How to avoid it?

● Get a good water filter

● Limit beer and wine consumption to less than 5 glasses per week

● Brussel sprouts are healthy but the sulfur attracts the arsenic; eat in moderation

● Eat a variety of grains (buckwheat, millet, etc)


What is it?

A heavy silvery d-block element that is liquid at standard conditions for temperature and pressure. Is is found naturally occurring throughout the world as cinnabar.

Why is it bad?

Eating mercury is bad for your health. It gets into the air and oceans primarily through burning coal. Eventually lands on your plate. Pregnant women are most at risk from the toxic effects of mercury, since the metal is known to concentrate in the fetal brain and can interfere with brain development. Mercury is known to bind with hormones that regulate women’s menstrual and ovulation cycle. It may also play a role in diabetes since is has been shown to damage cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

Common products with Mercury

● Fluorescent lights

● Batteries

● Dental fillings

● Skin lightening creams

● Seafood especially: shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel

● Rice

● Old thermometers

How to avoid it?

● If you want to eat fish eat predominantly wild salmon and farmed trout

● Choose variety in your grains

● Replace old dental fillings but make sure to go to a Dr. trained in mercury filling removal

Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)

What is it?

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are a man made chemical compound that are not naturally occurring in the environment. The were developed to repel oil, grease, and water and are used in everyday consumer products such as cookware, carpet, clothing paper and cardboard packaging.

Why are they bad?

99% of Americans have this chemical in their body. It has been shown to completely resist biodegradation so it will never break down in the environment. What that means is that it will continue to show up in humans bodies for generations. It has been linked to decreased sperm quality, low birth weight, kidney disease, thyroid disease and high cholesterol. Animal studies have found that it can affect the thyroid and sex hormones.

Common products with PFCs

● Nonstick pans

● Camping tents

● Outdoor clothing

● Popcorn bags

● Take out containers such as pizza boxes and sandwich wrappers

● Stain repellant and water repellant clothing

● Carpet and carpet treatments

● Certain cosmetics including eye shadow, foundation, bronzer, blush

How to avoid it?

● Skip nonstick pans and cookware

● Decrease usage to waterproof clothing and gear to when it’s essential

● Eat food in rather than take out

● Check cosmetic companies for ingredients

● Make your own popcorn from scratch

Organophosphate Pesticides

What is it?

Neurotoxic compound that the Nazis produced in large quantities for chemical warfare during World War II but was never used. After the war, American scientists used the same chemistry to develop a long line of pesticides that target the nervous system of insects. It is one of the most commonly used pesticides today.

Why is it bad?

Studies have linked organophosphate exposure to effects on brain development, behavior and fertility. It can interfere with how testosterone communicates with cells lowering testosterone levels and altering thyroid hormone.

Common products with Organophosphate:

● Non organic produce

● Animal growth promoters

● Flea treatments for pets

● Lice/nit treatments

● Mosquito spraying and fog

How to avoid it?

● Buy organic produce or follow guidelines for least sprayed foods

● When in doubt try the natural route

nancy crowellComment