Everyday Endocrine Disruptors and How To Avoid Them

May 12, 2021

What are Endocrine Disruptors?

According to an article I read recently on Pub Med, Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and potential EDCs are mostly man-made found in various materials. By interfering with the body's endocrine system, endocrine disruptors produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in humans, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children.

The effects of endocrine disruptors constitute a real public health issue. However, concerning the mechanisms of action of EDCs, many questions remain unanswered and need further investigations.

Where are they?

EDCS may be found in plastic bottles and metal food cans (BPA), medical devices (phthalates), detergents, flame retardants (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), food (BPA), toys (phthalates), cosmetics and drugs (parabens), and pesticides (alkyl phenols such as nonylphenol).

What are some common endocrine disruptors?

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) — used to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, which are found in many plastic products including food storage containers
  • Dioxins — produced as a byproduct in herbicide production and paper bleaching, they are also released into the environment during waste burning and wildfires
  • Perchlorate — a by-product of aerospace, weapon, and pharmaceutical industries found in drinking water and fireworks
  • Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) — used widely in industrial applications, such as firefighting foams and non-stick pan, paper, and textile coatings
  • Phthalates — used to make plastics more flexible, they are also found in some food packaging, cosmetics, children’s toys, and medical devices
  • Phytoestrogens — naturally occurring substances in plants that have hormone-like activity, such as genistein and daidzein that are in soy products, like tofu or soy milk
  • Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) — used to make flame retardants for household products such as furniture foam and carpets
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) — used to make electrical equipment like transformers, and in hydraulic fluids, heat transfer fluids, lubricants, and plasticizers
  • Triclosan — may be found in some anti-microbial and personal care products, like liquid body wash
  • Benzene is a colorless liquid that evaporates quickly. It is naturally found in crude oil and is a basic petrochemical. Unfortunately, it is also a known human carcinogen.

Benzene is found in tobacco smoke, gasoline (and therefore car exhaust), pesticides, synthetic fibers, plastics, inks, oils, and detergents.

How to reduce exposure:

To reduce exposure to BPA:

  • Minimize use of plastic containers with the #7 or #3 on the bottom.
  • Don’t microwave plastic food containers, and don’t wash them in the dishwasher or with harsh detergents.
  • Reduce use of canned foods and eat mostly fresh or frozen foods.
  • When possible opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel cups, containers, water bottles and travel mugs.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free (or better yet use glass bottles) and look for toys labeled BPA free.

To reduce exposure to pesticides:

  • Wash and scrub all fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional.
  • If possible purchase mostly organic fruits and vegetables, particularly the ones consistently found to have the highest pesticide residues – apples, strawberries, celery, peaches and spinach. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for more info.
  • Grow your own!

To reduce phthalate exposure:

  • Minimize use of plastics with the recycling code #3.
  • Use PVC-free containers. Buy plastic wrap and bags made from polyethylene and use glass containers. If you do use plastic containers, do not heat or microwave them.
  • Choose phthalate-free toys. Many large toymakers have pledged to stop using phthalates, but be sure to look for toys made from polypropylene or polyethylene.
  • Purchase phthalate-free beauty products. Avoid nail polish, perfumes, colognes, and other scented products that list phthalates as an ingredient. Many scented products simply list “fragrance” as an ingredient, which often incorporates a number of different chemicals including phthalates. Try to minimize these products, or for more information on phthalate-free cosmetics and personal care products, visit the National Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group, which maintains a database on cosmetic products and their ingredients.

To reduce benzene exposure:

  • Don’t smoke and try to avoid second hand smoke.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in your home.
  • Use non-scented laundry detergents.
  • Keep plants in the home.

Healthy Swaps:

There are many brands available now  such as Chosen Foods, Primal Kitchen, Orgain, Bob’s Red Mill, Target’s Simply Organic, and Applegate Farms to name a few that have taken an aggressive approach to clean ingredients that nourish the body. A Fabulous resource for healthy swap ideas is on Instagram, it’s called @just.ingredients by Karalynne Call. She is a wealth of knowledge and provides tons of resources, visuals, and even her own product line to help convert your every day items to healthy, safe ingredient products.

Recap: While it is impossible to completely eliminate exposure (and it might drive you crazy to try!), a few simple steps will go a long way towards protecting you and your family:

  • Decrease use of plastic – transition to glass, stainless steel and porcelain containers, glasses and mugs.
  • Wash all produce, and if possible, purchase organic options for items on the Dirty Dozen list.
  • Use fewer products with the term “fragrance.”
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Keep plenty of plants in the home.

There’s no need to freak out over occasional exposure to environmental toxins. Just look for simple ways to reduce your everyday exposure. Make changes slowly, one at a time, in a manageable way, and you will decrease your risk with minimal stress.

Now, for some actions steps you can take today:

  1. How to help yourself: Start reading ingredient labels. Many products that we use daily like our soaps, shampoos, cleansers, lotions, deodorants, perfumes, and convenience foods have EDCs. You can start swapping those out for clean ingredient options. I’d first start swapping out the items you use daily as those likely have the highest exposure.
  2. How to help others: When buying gifts, bringing meals, or hosting a party, use clean ingredients and supplies, show others how living/eating with clean ingredients is not so difficult.
  3. How to dig deeper: check out the links to the sources I used to gather information. 

You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @coachsandyrobinson or @hashimotoshealthcoach.


Monneret C. What is an endocrine disruptor? C R Biol. 2017 Sep-Oct;340(9-10):403-405. doi: 10.1016/j.crvi.2017.07.004. PMID: 29126512.


Dirty Dozen: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php





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