With daylight savings time behind us, and long dark nights ahead, many of us are turning our thoughts to the comforts of holiday festivities and shopping. Malls are already aglow with holiday lights and shops are rolling out sparkling arrays of gifts and fabulous foods. It’s time to make our holiday shopping lists.
Not so fast! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) warns us that all those sparkles are not safe. Many harmful chemicals are lurking inside those gold and silver wrappings and many of them are not even listed on the product labels.
Just in time for the holidays, the EWG has partnered with the Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) to publish a new consumer guide that lists the twelve most harmful endocrine disruptors. They call it “The Dirty Dozen” of Endocrine Disruptors.
The Environmental Working Group warns, “There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing productions of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another…” They can also bind to normal hormones and accumulate in organs.
Normally, the endocrine system’s glands --- the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries, and testes --- release hormones that regulate growth, development and various body functions. Endocrine disruptors wreak havoc on normal functions. The body absorbs these dangerous chemicals by touching, breathing, or consuming products that contain them. Endocrine disruptors are linked to reproductive problems, lowered sperm count, cancer, thyroid disease and other health problems.
The “Dirty Dozen” lists the worst of these chemicals and helps consumers locate and avoid them. BPA or bisphenol A, a chemical used in plastics, tops the list. It is found in the bodies of 93% of all Americans. This synthetic hormone imitates the sex hormone estrogen and has been linked to “breast cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty, heart disease, behavioral changes in children and resistance to chemotherapy treatments.”
BPA has been banned in baby bottles, sport bottles and children’s sippy cups, but it is still widely used in plastic food packaging and cans. EWG advises consumers to check labels to see if the product is BPA-free and to avoid recycle numbers 3 and 7 as stated on the packaging.
Besides BPA, the list includes other chemicals such as dioxin, atrazine, phthalates, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, arsenic, mercury, PFCs, organophosphate pesticides, and glycol ethers. Still, this is just a short list of the worst endocrine disruptors.
An organization called TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange) lists 1,000 endocrine disruptors in their database. TEDX reminds us how ubiquitous these chemicals have become during the past 60 years. “We encounter them as plastics and resins every day in our cars, trucks, planes, trains, sporting goods, outdoor equipment, medical equipment…” People are exposed without knowing it--- in products they use every day and often more than one at a time.
The Natural Resource Defense Council informs consumers, “The majority of more than 2,000 chemicals that come onto the market every year do not go through even the simplest tests to determine toxicity.”
On June 13, 2013 Jeanne Rizzo, President of the Breast Cancer Fund, addressed Congress about the need to reform “The Toxic Control Act.” She informed Congress, “Exposure to toxic chemicals can be particularly harmful at certain stages of life, including prenatally, in early childhood and puberty.” Moreover, she explained, “Low doses matter: Some chemicals--- particularly those that disrupt our endocrine system --- can have a profound impact at lower exposure levels.”
Julian Hattem reported this week in The Hill’s Blog that a House subcommittee is planning to review the “Toxic Control Act” next week.
EWG’s new “dirty dozen” guide to the worst endocrine disruptors is an important addition to its web-site’s other accessible guides for buying safe and healthy produce, cleaning supplies, cosmetics and personal care items. (www.ewg.org)
So before you visit the mall to buy the gifts on your shopping list, check out their ingredients at EWG’s databases. For example, if “Kiss My Face Ultra Moisturizer” is on your list, you will learn that it contains propylparaben, an extremely hazardous preservative that can act as an endocrine disruptor. You can then search for a safer alternative such as Loving Naturals moisturizer that has a very low hazardous score.
Another holiday helper is on its way. EWG will soon release an APP for your smart phone. Just swipe the barcode and get a list of ingredients.