Xenoestrogens: What they are and how to avoid them.
GUEST BLOGGER: Jo Lia, Building Biologist https://www.notoxrox.com/
Xeno means foreign and estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. So xenoestrogens are manmade chemicals that act like estrogen in the body. They interfere with our natural hormonal signals by either blocking hormones or more commonly mimicking hormones. Exposure to these endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can have serious health consequences from infertility, early puberty, abnormal development of sex organs, cancers, neurologic, immune, and respiratory issues to diabetes and obesity. Many of these EDCs are commonly referred to as ‘gender benders’ or ‘obesogens’.
EDCs are found in our air, water, food, and personal care products. They are also found in cleaning products and the materials we use to build our houses. That’s right they are ubiquitous in our environment but knowing where these xenoestrogens are lurking, means we can eradicate or at least limit our exposure to them.
Here is a list of 5 of the most common EDCs you are likely to come across in your day to day life:
BPA- Bisphenol A
BPA was originally developed as a synthetic estrogen back in the 1930s. In the 1950’s it was discovered that it had properties that could make plastic hard and stable and was used as a monomer in polycarbonate plastic, where it is often still found today.
The best way to avoid it is:
Say no to receipts. Don’t touch them.
Limit your use of canned food. Don’t fall for the ‘BPA FREE’ nonsense. This usually means they have replaced BPA with a cousin chemical which is equally as bad. Use fresh or frozen food.
Do not store food or drink in plastic.
Unlike BPA phthalates make plastic soft. They are found in PVC plastic. Have you ever wondered what that new car smell is? That is phthalates and other VOCs off-gassing into the air you breathe. They are often called the everywhere chemical because they are unfortunately everywhere. They are also found in fragrance and if you look closely synthetic fragrances are all around us. You can find Phthalates in:
The best way to avoid phthalates is to:
Overhaul your personal care products. Only buy phthalate-free toiletries.
Stop using perfumes. Essential oils can work just as well.
Choose natural cleaning products or make your own.
Throw out plastic toys especially bath toys for children. They love to suck on rubber duckies.
If you are building or renovating choose safer products. Seek help in creating a healthy home.
Pesticides and herbicides are designed to kill animals and plants. Anything that kills life cannot be good for us. Organophosphate pesticides get a lot of attention these days because it is well known how damaging to our health these toxicants are and yet they are still widely used. Pesticides are known endocrine disruptors and many of them are carcinogenic. They are also associated with reduced IQ, learning and behavioural issues, gut problems, fatigue, neurological disorders, and of course metabolic disorders/weight problems.
Unfortunately, even if you make a conscious decision to not use pesticides, it is impossible to completely avoid them unless you live in a bubble. Your neighbours, your local council, your schools and parks, and sporting venues will be using herbicides and pesticides regularly and unfortunately, this impacts everyone.
Common exposures to pesticides come from:
The easiest way to avoid them is:
Buy mostly certified organic food. There have been numerous studies showing that individuals who switch from a conventional diet to an organic diet reduce the level of pesticides detected in their urine by an average of 89% within days (Oates 2014)
Do not wear shoes in the house. If you are walking through parks, sporting grounds, golf courses you will be exposed to pesticides. The pesticides will be on your clothes and shoes. Avoid dragging them through the house by taking your shoes and coats off at the door.
Clean up dust regularly. A multitude of contaminants settles in the house dust. Regularly wet wipe surfaces with a microfiber cloth and vacuum thoroughly with a vacuum with a HEPA filter. This will help avoid making these contaminants airborne or inadvertently ingesting them.
Filter your water. This is non-negotiable. Tap water, well water, tank water all contain a multitude of varying toxins that can quite easily be filtered out. This is a huge topic and it’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to finding the right filtration system. If you want more information on this book a consultation with Jo here
Throw out bug sprays and garden herbicides. Say no to annual pesticide treatments.
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances PFAS (sometimes called PFCs)
PFAS has qualities that are very useful to the consumer. They make products oil, water, stain, grease, and crease-resistant. Unfortunately, that convenience comes at a cost.
This class of almost 5,000 chemicals is often called forever chemicals because they are persistent in the environment, they don’t break down and they bio-accumulate in humans. They have a long half-life in the body meaning in some cases it can take up to 8 years for half of the PFAS to leave your body. They are associated with the usual kind of adverse health effects: cancer, endocrine disruption, thyroid disorders, obesity, metabolic disorders, reproductive issues, behavioural problems, and asthma.
They are found in:
Exposure to these chemicals is mainly via ingestion. So the best way to avoid them is:
Ditch the non -stick cookware. Cast iron, enamel-coated cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, and glass are best.
Say no to all stain-resistant treatments. Don’t waterproof your suede.
Don’t buy takeaway food that has a waxy, greaseproof coating.
Filter your water.
Flame retardants are in many consumer products from electronics and furniture to clothing. Some Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) were banned years ago but are still ubiquitous in the environment because like so many other toxicants they are persistent organic pollutants. They are hormone disruptors, therefore, have been linked to thyroid issues, weight gain, reproductive issues, infertility, early onset of puberty, and birth defects. BFRs are also associated with lower IQ, developmental delays, and cancer.
Flame retardants are found:
This is how you can minimise exposure to these chemicals:
Avoid polyurethane foam in mattresses and furniture. Opt for mattresses made of pure natural wool wadding which is naturally fire-resistant or natural latex. There are companies that do not use flame retardants in mattresses. Check with the manufacturers and look for GOLS or GOTS certification.
Check the labels of furniture and clothing to see if flame retardants are added.
The main route of exposure is through inhalation. These chemicals like so many others get into the air and end up in dust. Wet wipe surfaces with a microfiber cloth and vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter.
Wash your hands thoroughly before meals.
There are many more toxicants out there with hormone-disrupting capabilities but this is a good start. Now you know where some of these xenoestrogens are commonly found you can make more informed choices about the products you choose to bring into your home and use on your body. Start small. Every change is a step in the right direction.
Jo co-created the Healthy Homes for Healthy Hormones program.
GUEST BLOGGER: Jo Lia, Building Biologist https://www.notoxrox.com/
Jo Lia is a certified Building Biologist, Electromagnetic Radiation Consultant and an IICRC certified Water Damage Restoration Technician. Jo has been in this field for over a decade conducting healthy home and workplace audits, pre-purchase audits, EMR and mould audits, and co-ordinating lead dust removal projects.
This mother of three’s passion lies in creating safe spaces for kids to grow and learn. In 2015 she developed a safe school program to educate educators about the toxins children encounter every day. Jo has been working closely with pro-active schools and advising them on the safest installation and use of wireless technology. She also explains the importance of reducing a child’s toxic load by using safe products and implementing safe practices. Jo also advises a natural fertility clinic and consults with couples around the world to reduce their toxic load and improve their chances of a healthy conception.
A keen blogger and presenter she regularly contributes to health and wellness publications and in her spare time, she participates in community events to raise awareness and take industry violators to task.
When she’s not skyping clients to help them create a healthier home she can be found soaking up the sun at her local beach with a big coffee in hand, listening to a podcast.