This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post “What we don’t know is killing us…Part 1” Below are just six of the dozens of toxic chemicals that threaten you and any sons or grandsons you might hope to have some day.
-92.6 percent of Americans carry Bisphenol-A in their body. You may better know this chemical as BPA. In the US, BPA is embedded in everything from hard plastics to the linings of metal cans and water towers. The problem is that it can leach into liquids. Once ingested, as stated before, it mimics the effects of estrogen resulting in genetic chromosomal abnormalities, a likely cause of spontaneous abortions. For this chemical, look for bottles marked with a 7 inside the recycling symbol. Any plastic with the 7 means it contains BPA unless it is specifically noted as “BPA Free” like brands such as Nalgene or Avent.
-Industrial processes like waste incineration, oil refining and wood preservation generate dioxins and in our environment, they are everywhere—even in our food. In men, these toxins may alter hormone ratios, thus reducing the chances of conceiving a boy.
-8.8 percent of water suppliers in the US who reported testing for TCCD, the most toxic dioxin, between 1998 and 2003. Most US water supplies are not tested.
DDT & Dicofol
-These and other banned pesticides may linger in the environment for hundreds of years, which means they can still find their way into our bodies and stored in our body fat. Worse, they are still used and unregulated in many countries, so they can turn up in imported foods. Inside your body, they lower testosterone levels, again, making you more likely to conceive a girl.
-73.8 percent of Americans over the age of 12 contain this chemical within their body.
-Manufactures use them to soften the plastic in everything from IV tubes to food packaging. They don’t actually bind to plastic, so they can escape into water and air. Inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin, phthalates boost estrogen in male mammals. This can hamper masculine development during conception and through the developmental years.
-Rooms recently covered in PVC tile (which contains Dibutyl Phthalates) have tested to be significantly higher than the levels of this chemical in the air of New York City.
-1000 lbs is the minimum amount of spilled Diethyl Phthalate that is required to be reported to the EPA. Even the smallest doses can hamper male genital development.
-It hasn’t been used as a pesticide for decades. Even so, it’s present in small quantities, floating through our water supply and sullying our food, particularly fish and wild game. It’s associated with two things, according to John Jarrell, M.D., and OBGYN at the University or Calgary: spontaneous abortion and reduced male births. It is said that 99.9 percent of Americans over the age of 12 have this chemical present in their body.
Even if you tried, you couldn’t avoid the chemicals that mimic hormones. You can find them in the dandelion killer you put on your lawn and in the bug spray under the kitchen sink. They’re in many plastic bottles and they line tin cans. They’re lurking in carpets and sofa cushions, in shampoos and detergents. Unfortunately, you can’t dodge endocrine-disrupting toxins entirely. Plastic bottles, new-car fumes (did you know that new car smell isn’t good for you!?) and shower curtains will be polluting the world for the unforeseeable future.
Here’s how you can avoid some of these toxins:
Protect your Produce
Even today, the US banned pesticide DDT is used abroad, so try to buy local produce. However, buying local has its risks in cooler parts of the country too. The warmer the weather, the faster the DDT disappears. In any case, you should rinse your produce thoroughly to avoid ingesting even trace amounts, the CDC advises. And peel root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, which tend to accumulate the highest levels of DDT.
Trim the Fat
Hormone-altering toxins are often fat-soluble. This means that they lurk in everything from full-fat dairy products to fatty fish to meat. In fact, 96% of human dioxin exposures are from these foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Consuming reduced-fat dairy products and leans meats may cut your exposure to chemicals.
Choose Bottled Beverages
The next time you’re enjoying a cool drink, consider this: the epoxy lining in aluminum cans contains the endocrine disruptor BPA. Remember: glass is always better than plastic in most situations.
Phthalates that bind to various ingredients are injected into personal-care products, such as shave gel, aftershave, hair gel, lotions and deodorants—and may contribute to reduced sperm counts and testicular cancer. The chemicals in these products are totally unregulated and manufacturers don’t have to put them on the label. Uncover the truth about your bathroom basics at cosmeticsdatabase.com, an environmental working group website.
Reheat with Caution
Before you zap that 3-day-old Chinese, check the bottom of your storage container. Those with recycling codes 3 or 7 are more likely to contain BPA or phthalates. Fatty foods absorb chemicals from the container and heating speeds up the process. Microwave on a glass plate and toss out plastic containers if they are cracked or scratched. Toxins escape more easily from plastic that’s damaged.
Tough on Dirt, Gentle on Plastics
The heat from dishwashers speeds up chemical leaching, too. But high temperatures are also an effective way to kill bacteria. Ease the toxic seep by using liquid soap in your dishwasher instead of powdered detergents, which are harsher and accelerate leaching.
According to Consumer Reports magazine, the FDA will soon decide what it considers a safe level of exposure to BPA. Their latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contained some BPA. The canned organic foods did not always have lower BPA levels and the chemical was even found in products labled “BPA Free.”
There is much debate about what is a safe level of BPA to ingest and whether it should be in contact with food. Current federal guidelines put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on information from the 1980’s and hundreds of more recent studies have found serious health risks could result at levels much lower than this out dated high standard. More recent studies have shown serious health concerns at exposures of 2.4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day. Bills are pending in Congress that would ban the use of BPA in all food and beverage containers.
The BPA chemical was first marketed in the 1940’s as a plastic component and by the 1960’s was used in almost all can linings to extend shelf life. Now it is one of the highest-volume chemicals in the world; at least 7 billion pounds are produced annually for use in countless products, including dental sealants, PVC water pipes, medical equipment, consumer electronics and even cash-register receipts.
Consumer Reports tested for BPA in soup, vegetables, tuna, and other canned products as well as non-canned versions from leading manufacturers such as Campbell’s, Chef Boyardee, Del Monte, Nestle and Progresso, among others. Three samples of each product were tested in an outside laboratory and the end result was that consumers eating just one serving of one of the canned vegetable soup tested would get about double what the FDA now considers typical average dietary daily exposure. The highest levels of BPA were found in the canned green beans and canned soup.
Given the significance of BPA exposure for infants and young children, samples of Similac Advance Infant Formula and Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Apple Juice were tested. The samples of the Similac liquid concentrate in a can averaged 9 ppb of BPA, but there was no measurable level in the powdered version. The samples of the Juicy Juice in a can averaged 9.7 ppb BPA, but there was no measurable levels in the samples of the same product packaged in juice boxes. Children drinking three servings per day of canned apple juice with these high levels of BPA could result in a dose of BPA that is more than the experts’ daily upper limit.
Other packaging such as plastic containers or bags might lower but not eliminate exposure to BPA in those foods. This wasn’t true for all the products tested though. Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup in plastic packaging contained detectable amounts of BPA, but at levels that were significantly lower than the same brand of soup in the can. The Starkist Chunk Light canned tuna also had BPA, but in a plastic pouch weren’t measurable. The same went for frozen Bird’s Eye Steam Fresh Green Beans in a plastic bag. Even after microwaving in the bag, very low levels of BPA were detected. The samples of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli packaged in a plastic microwavable container with a metal peel-off lid had BPA levels 1.5 times higher than the same brand of food in metal cans. The test of the metal peel-back lid revealed that the inner coating is epoxy-based.
In Japan, most major manufacturers voluntarily changed their can linings in 1997 to cut or eliminate the use of BPA because of concerns about health effects. A 2003 Japanese study found that the levels of the chemical in subject’s urine dropped by 50 percent after the change in cans was made.
What things are you already doing in your home to avoid chemical exposure? What are the first few things on your list to reduce chemical exposure in your home?
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