It’s impressive how effortlessly manufacturers can explain away the dangers of endocrine disrupters. Proponents of various products downplay the inclusion of toxic substances by citing the minimal effect of minor exposure. While they may be correct that a small ingested/ inhaled amount can be easily flushed out by the Immune System or that temporary exposure is not enough to cause severe damage, what about the effects of buildup over time by overlapping dosages from multiple sources?
Please recall my previous post, in which I outline the Endocrine System: a coordinated operation of organs produces and regulates hormones necessary for development, reproduction, sleep and mood, among other things. Needless to say, messing with the intricate balance is risky. In my previous post about plastic, I mentioned chemicals could be absorbed by skin/ blood and dispersed through air and water via heat and/or pressure; heat accelerates the breakdown of composite materials while additionally dispersing them into the surrounding environment. The following are by far the most common sources of toxins.
Dioxin is unintentionally released into the air as a byproduct of incomplete burning of gas or wood and during the incineration of industrial waste. It weakens the Immune System and causes chloracne. It can also affect reproduction, cause birth defects and damage the liver and kidneys. Long-term exposure causes soft-tissue sarcomas, lymphomas, stomach carcinomas and can lead to cancer. (I mentioned an effect of iron ore particulate on the brain in my previous post.)
Perchlorate, some of which is a discharge of salts from rocket fuel manufacturing plants or from demilitarization of weaponry and some of which is used in the reversible binding of ethylene, interferes with the thyroid’s ability to metabolize iodine.
Flame retardants have long been considered important additives to petroleum-based materials, such as plastic, fabric (particularly children’s pajamas and crib liners) and wood coating. While they do protect against fire damage, there is mounting evidence of inhibition of reproduction and of both physical and neurological development.
Triclocan, an ether derivative used as an antiseptic and preservative, is common in antibacterial and antifungal products, such as soap, toothpaste, deodorant and cosmetics. Though it’s been banned from addition to soap by the FDA, it’s still widely unregulated; studies on its effects are cursory and few. But it is known to block the synthesis of fatty acids.
Heavy metals, most notably arsenic and lead (although mercury, cadmium, zinc and copper are common, too) can be in literally anything that uses water contaminated by nearby mining, urban/ industrial runoff, sewage discharge, or applied insecticide/ pesticide. This includes crops, which can be an ingredient in many things. For example, a study conducted of 130 top selling protein powders found that 53 contained elevated levels of lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. Studies of rice– the worst being from India— reveal exceptionally high levels of arsenic in particular. Also, recall my previous post on bees, which mentioned high concentrations of heavy metals found in hives.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) are mixtures of chemicals. Also known as congeners, these blends consist of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds. Though they can be used as coolants and lubricants for electrical equipment, in 1977 the United States stopped using them when they discovered the side-effects exposure causes. Likely exposure is from contaminated water or air near hazardous wastes sites, especially due to illegal disposal.
While any cleanup plan or government regulation will be complex and lengthy, the least we as consumers can do is re-prioritize our lives away from the instant gratification of comfort and towards longevity and quality of wellness. If the simplest way from point A to point B is a straight line then it makes sense to choose things with the least amount of ingredients and materials, especially avoiding anything the human body wasn’t made to metabolize. Budget the resources (time, energy, money) it will take to investigate the brands with which we cook, dress, farm, build, decorate, etc. keeping in mind we vote not just with a ballot; a cash register keeps the most accurate tally of what people want. Companies won’t make what no one will buy.
This will result in inconvenience to the lifestyle to which we’ve grown accustomed. But then again, so will infertility, brain damage, or Cancer… Unless you believe the marketing claims of billion dollar corporations (that typically fund their own studies), who aim to normalize the symptoms of chronic illness. After all, the best person to lie to you is you; greedy businesses– and their investors– love to save money on something you can do for them for free– rationalize.