In an increasingly chemical-laden world, concerns are rising about the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on our health. A mounting body of evidence, including the groundbreaking research by Shanna Swan in her book “Countdown,” draws a worrying link between EDC exposure and plummeting testosterone levels, skyrocketing infertility rates, and potential population concerns.
Swan’s research reveals that these seemingly benign chemicals in our everyday environment could be quietly sabotaging our hormonal balance, reproductive health, and future generations. This blog aims to shine a light on how we can navigate this chemical maze, making conscious choices to reduce our exposure and safeguard our health.
As Shanna Swan emphasizes in her work, we’re all exposed to EDCs from a multitude of sources – the food we eat, the air we breathe, even the clothes we wear. These chemicals can mimic our natural hormones, disrupt endocrine function, and contribute to a range of health issues, including fertility problems and hormonal imbalances .
The unfortunate reality is that modern lifestyle practices, combined with environmental factors, are leading to a dramatic decrease in testosterone levels in men, causing fertility issues not just for individual families, but also on a population level. According to Swan’s research, sperm counts have halved over the past four decades and could reach zero by 2045 if the trend continues .
The impact isn’t just limited to men. Women are experiencing rising rates of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and other reproductive health issues, with EDC exposure being a likely contributing factor.
Given these alarming trends, it’s high time we pay more attention to these hidden disruptors in our daily lives. In this blog, I’ll guide you through practical steps to dodge EDCs at home, work, and while shopping. Together, we can make choices that support our health and the health of generations to come.
The increasing awareness of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their potential health risks has many of us rethinking our everyday habits. From the water bottles we drink to the clothes we wear, EDCs are almost omnipresent in our modern lives. Yet, as this blog highlights, we can take steps to reduce our exposure to these harmful substances. Here I’ll guide you on how to navigate your day-to-day environments – at work, at home, and while shopping – to avoid these pesky chemicals.
How to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors At Home
1. Invest in a Stainless Steel Water Bottle
First and foremost, let’s talk about hydration. It’s crucial for our health, but the plastic bottles we often use aren’t doing us any favors. Instead, consider investing in a stainless-steel water bottle, like a Yeti. They’re sturdy, reusable, and most importantly, free from harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor commonly found in plastic bottles .
2. Know Your Plastics
Speaking of plastics, it’s important to know which ones are safer to use. Remember the rhyme, “4, 5, 1, 2, all the rest are bad for you.” This refers to the recycling symbols found on the bottom of plastic products. Numbers 4, 5, 1, and 2 are generally considered safer. Avoid plastics labeled 3, 6, and 7, as they often contain harmful chemicals .
3. Opt for Glass and Ceramic
While we’re on the topic of food storage, it’s best to swap out plastic dishes and Tupperware for glass and ceramic options. Heating up plastic, even if it’s microwave safe, can cause EDCs to leach into your food. On a similar note, ditch the disposable dishes and silverware. They’re not only bad for the environment but often contain EDCs.
4. Shoes Off at the Door
Simple habits can make a big difference. For instance, make it a rule not to wear shoes inside the house. Shoes can track in pollutants, dirt, and chemicals from outdoors. A dedicated shoe rack near the entrance can be a great reminder.
5. Non-toxic Shower Liners
Did you know standard plastic shower curtains can release EDCs? Opt for non-toxic shower liners instead. Look for ones made of linen, hemp, or cotton. They’re much safer and still effective at keeping water off your bathroom floor .
6. Check Your Cleaning Products
Many household cleaners contain harsh chemicals. Next time you’re shopping, check the labels and opt for products with natural ingredients. Or better yet, you can make your own cleaning products using vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils.
7. Beef Tallow as a Moisturizer
While it may sound odd at first, using beef tallow as a moisturizer can be an excellent alternative to commercially available lotions that often contain endocrine disruptors. Beef tallow is rich in vitamins and compatible with our skin’s biology. Do ensure you source it from grass-fed, organic sources to avoid any unwanted chemicals.
We actually make our own beef tallow balm here at Intelligent Wellbeing, and you can find it here.
8. Invest in a HEPA Air Filter
Air purifiers with HEPA filters can be effective at reducing airborne chemicals in your home. These filters work by forcing air through a fine mesh, trapping harmful particles such as dust, pollen, and tobacco smoke, which can sometimes carry EDCs. It’s a simple step that can significantly improve the air quality in your home.
9. Vacuum Regularly
Lastly, regular vacuuming can help reduce the accumulation of dust in your home, which can sometimes contain EDCs. Make it a habit to vacuum at least once a week, paying particular attention to high-traffic areas. Just remember to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to ensure you’re catching the smallest particles.
These additional steps can further help reduce your exposure to EDCs in everyday life. While it might seem overwhelming at first, remember that even small changes can make a big difference over time.
10. Breathe Easier with Natural Fragrances
Synthetic air fresheners might make your home smell like a fresh spring morning, but they’re often loaded with harmful chemicals. Instead of these artificial fragrances, try using natural alternatives. Essential oils with a diffuser can fill your home with a pleasant aroma without releasing EDCs into the air.
At Work and While Shopping
11. Avoid Takeout Containers and Coffee Cups
Food containers and coffee cups are often lined with a chemical compound to prevent leakage. Unfortunately, these compounds can leach into your food or drink. Try to bring your own glass containers for takeout and a reusable coffee cup for your caffeine fix.
12. Choose Your Clothing Wisely
Lastly, let’s talk clothing. Polyester, a common material in fast fashion, is a type of plastic that can release EDCs. Opt for organic cotton clothing when possible. It’s gentler on your skin and better for the environment.
13. Eating Whole, Non-Processed Foods
The food we eat can be another significant source of EDC exposure, especially when it comes to processed and packaged foods. To minimize your risk, focus on eating whole, non-processed foods. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins are not only healthier, but they’re also less likely to have been in contact with harmful plastics and chemicals.
By making these small changes, we can reduce our exposure to EDCs and create a healthier environment for ourselves and our loved ones. Remember, every little bit helps.
Living in a world surrounded by endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can feel overwhelming, but as we’ve seen, there are plenty of simple changes we can make to reduce our exposure. From the water we drink to the air we breathe, every aspect of our daily routine can be a step towards a healthier life.
At home, consider investing in a stainless-steel water bottle, learning to recognize safer plastics, and replacing plastic dishes with glass or ceramic options. A no-shoes rule can keep outdoor pollutants out of your home, while opting for non-toxic shower liners and natural cleaning products can reduce your contact with harmful chemicals.
When it comes to work and shopping, be conscious of food containers and coffee cups that often contain EDCs. Also, make wiser choices in clothing by preferring organic cotton over synthetic materials.
Remember to avoid synthetic air fresheners and embrace essential oils for a natural aroma. Eating whole, non-processed foods can reduce your exposure from packaged goods. Don’t shy away from unusual solutions like using beef tallow as a moisturizer, and enhance the quality of your indoor air by investing in a HEPA air filter and regular vacuuming.
By integrating these habits into our routines, we can safeguard our health and the health of our loved ones. While it might seem like a daunting task, every small step is a stride towards an EDC-free life. Remember, the goal isn’t to live in fear of EDCs, but to live informed and make better choices whenever possible.
-  Geens, T., Goeyens, L., & Covaci, A. (2011). Are potential sources for human exposure to bisphenol-A overlooked?. International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 214(5), 339-347.
-  Rani, M., Shim, W. J., Han, G. M., Jang, M., Al-Odaini, N. A., Song, Y. K., & Hong, S. H. (2015). Qualitative analysis of additives in plastic marine debris and its new products. Archives of environmental contamination and toxicology, 69(3), 352-366.
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-  Swan, S. H., & Colino, S. (2021). Countdown: How our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperiling the future of the human race. Scribner.
-  Kortenkamp, A. (2008). Low dose mixture effects of endocrine disrupters: implications for risk assessment and epidemiology. International Journal of Andrology, 31(2), 233-240.