Update on the Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors

In October 2013 the Environmental Working Group published a list of the top hormone disruptors (also called endocrine disruptors). The list contained, BPA, Dioxin, Atrazine, Phthalates, Perchlorates, Fire retardants (also called flame retardants), Lead, Arsenic, Mercury, Perfluorinated Chemicals (also abbreviated as PFCs), Organophosphate pesticides, and Glycol ethers. I believe the risks from these chemicals need to be modified, and my understanding follows.

  • BPA is a diminishing threat from water bottles because it has been eliminated. However, there is a risk from ATM and cash register receipts.
  • Dioxin risks have greatly diminished since municipal waste incinerators were banned, and paper manufacturing has been forced to eliminate dioxins from its waste gases.
  • Lead risk has greatly decreased since leaded gasoline was phased out decades ago.
  • Arsenic is significant risk only if the local water source has a concentration that exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Level of 10ppm. This is not likely if your water comes from a municipal source.
  • Mercury contamination primarily arises from a diet high in fish.
  • PFCs may be decreasing because a major manufacturer, 3M Co., phased out PFOA and PFOS several years ago. But if your carpeting is more than ten years old, it (and the dust from it) is still hazardous. 3M Co. claims that the replacement PFC is rapidly eliminated from the body – in stark contrast to PFOA and PFOS, which can linger for years. But I’ve seen no proof of their claim.
  • Triclosan – not in the original list – is a hazard because, as an antibacterial/antimicrobial, it is present in many soaps and cosmetics.

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Atrazine continues to be a strong threat to people in the corn-belt because millions of pounds per year are applied to corn, the biggest grain crop. The same for organophosphate pesticides. Phthalates continue to be a hormone hazard because various types are present in many home products. Likewise for fire retardants, because they are present in nearly all polyurethane foam products, e.g., mattresses, pillows, and furniture. I had not previously written about glycol ethers, which are in many liquid household cleaners (read the label) where they are added for their grease-cutting qualities. They are also in many latex paints, and because they are volatile, a freshly painted room should not be used until the paint is dry and all odors have disappeared. I don’t have data on any change in the risk from perchlorates. Check the water-quality report that comes with your water bill.

Keep reading; keep thinking; keep your body pure by minimizing exposure to toxic chemicals. Because the World Health Organization’s report identified 14 diseases induced by exposure during fetal and infant development, pregnant women should be especially vigilant to avoid exposures.

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About donlouis

The author has long had a keen interest in staying healthy and fit, and in doing whatever I can to keep the natural environment unpolluted and a healthy space for people and all animals. As a former Board Member of a municipal water district, I regularly had to deal with the issue of water quality. I first became aware of radiation hazards from toxic materials while working on uranium for nuclear reactors. During the 1960s I was tuned into the global hazard from Strontium 90 raining down from atmospheric testing of nuclear bombs. While working in the chemical industry in later years I became aware of the many forms of chemical contaminants entering the environment every day, and resolved to do something about it. I am able to make sense out of the voluminous descriptions of common toxic chemical because of my training in chemistry, with a Ph.D. degree and several decades of research and development work in the chemical industry. My training and experience enables me to present to readers reliable and current information on the topic of chemical hazards in the environment, and their threats to human health. All my life I have loved hiking and camping in nature. Skiing, river kayaking, and tennis have been my favorite physical activities. Nature photography is my artistic passion.
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