Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Endocrine Disruptors and Early Puberty

From the forgetful Retro Housewife. Sorry about the lack of post last week. 

Today USA Today posted an article on the topic of early puberty. The article discussed how girls are developing much faster with about 15% of American girls begin puberty by age 7. This is very alarming and has the medical community searching for answers. While things like obesity have been shown to play a role, studies have also shown that chemicals known as endocrine disruptors maybe to blame.

Your endocrine system is a system of glands. These glands secrete different hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones regulate things like growth and development, metabolism, and mood. Endocrine disruptors are just what they sound like, chemicals that disrupt your endocrine system. Endocrine disruptors can be found in all kinds of things from plastics to pesticides. Some that you may have heard of are bishenol A (BPA), phthalates, Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

There are some simple ways to reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals. Here are just a few.

  • If you must use plastic look for BPA-free. However, studies are now showing even BPA-free plastics may contain endocrine disruptors.
  • Don't use plastics in the microwave or with hot food. Heat causes the harmful chemicals to leach more toxins into your food. 
  • When buying products avoid ones with fragrances. If you like scents be sure to look for pure essential oils. Fragrances often contain phthalates.
  • Don't use pesticides. Pesticides are harmful to you and the planet. Look for natural ways to deal with bugs.
  • Avoid PVC products. These products contain phthalates and a stabilizer, which is often lead.
If you want to learn more about endocrine disruptors and what to do about them I highly recommend reading "Smart Mama's Green Guide" by Jennifer Taggart. 

Are you worried about endocrine disruptors and early puberty? If so, what are you doing about it?


Photo credit: gjofili

4 comments:

Robbie @ Going Green Mama said...

As a parent of a kindergartener, this is pretty alarming to me! I try to avoid all of these things anyway, but you have to wonder about the impact of the rest of the world's actions...

Green Bean said...

Seriously scary stuff!! Even people who are not "greens" are getting on board with this because who thinks it is okay for their 7 year old daughter to grow breasts! Great tips for avoidance.

Wendy said...

You should add to your list to avoid canned goods. The canned food you buy in the grocery store is stored in cans that are lined with BPA plastic.

Heather said...

Sorry this is a bit late, but there's another one you may well like to add to your list: chlorine bleach! Using ordinary household bleach makes chemicals called dioxins (the best known dioxins are those that were found in Agent Orange in the Vietnam war). The dioxins you make in your home will mostly go down the drain, but they never decompose in the environment. They will go up the food chain, accumulating in fatty tissues, until you eat them up in your food! They cause endocrine disruption, and a bunch of other problems beside.

There's some info about this on:

http://www.ejnet.org/dioxin/

I was first exposed to the idea when I was studying for a PhD in Green Chemistry and had to read a big thick book called 'Pandora's Poison' all about the ecological evils of chlorine.

On a commercial scale chlorine is used for bleaching fabrics and paper, so look for non-bleached textiles and paper products. In the home, use hydrogen peroxide for your bleach. It's not as effective, unfortunately, but I prefer slightly dingy whites over putting poisons into the environment that will never go away!

Chlorine bleach isn't just in bottles of bleach, either. If you want to use a commercial laundry detergent or toilet cleaner you may find it hard to find a bleach-free one. On the label, 'chloride' is fine (that's the kind of chlorine that's in table salt), but chlorite, hypochlorite or anything else that contains both 'chlor' and 'ite' in it's name *will* form dioxins when you use it.

There's a bit about all this here, along with other ways to avoid exposure:

http://www.re-nest.com/re-nest/toxin-dioxin-public-enemy-number-one--126587

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