Endocrine disrupting chemicals - where are we at and what can you do?
Posted Jun 24 2010 5:30pm
This week I saw the first advertisement for “BPA-free” plastic containers. Its an interesting development from a health point of view, and a marketing promotion you’re likely to see more of in the future. I first came across this concern some 20 year ago, when plastics were suspected of ‘off-gassing’.As research progressed, concerns about chemicals in our environment increased.
Whether the chemical components of plastic affect your body, particularly your reproduction, is now a fully fledged controversy, with much finger-pointing amongst scientists about whether specific research was properly designed, used a particular variety of rat, whether the testing dose was taken orally or implanted…the list goes on and on.
Differences in research design is one of many reasons why science has been unable to reach a final consensus about the safety of this chemical, and others. (It’s the repeatability of a scientific study that gives it more credibility – where different scientists using the same method reach the same conclusions.)
BPA (its full name is Bisphenol A) is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic to make it more durable. Other chemicals are used to make plastic more pliable. Other artificial chemicals are widely distributed in pesticides, flame retardants, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. But if they’re a problem is it just one chemical, or lots of different chemicals having a cumulative effect?
In 2007 a large group of scientists sat down to create the Prague Declaration on Endocrine Disruption. They agreed that, yes, there were many man-made endocrine disrupters in the environment, with effects that were not yet fully understood – although it was clear that endocrine disrupting chemicals negatively affect wildlife.
While the scientists are working to find out more, you can help protect yourself from the effects of man-made chemicals like bisphenol-A.
-stop using cling-wrap, particularly in heating or cooking (e.g microwaving)
-store refrigerated leftovers in ceramic or glass containers, with a plate sitting on the top as a ‘lid’ if you don’t need an airtight seal.
-Buy food in glass or ceramic containers where you can. There are concerns that the plastic lining of tin cans may affect the contents.
-Drink filtered water – basic ceramic filters are very effective and inexpensive.
-When replacing your cosmetics, see whether a more natural product is available.
-Source more of your clothing from natural fabrics like cotton and bamboo.
If you want to learn more about man-made chemicals and their possible effect on your body, a good book to read is "Slow Death By Rubber Duck"
What do you do to protect yourself from chemical pollution? Share your tips by leaving a comment below.