A document on Endocrine Disrupters or EDC's has recently been released by the World Health Organization / United Nations entitled “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – 2012”. The report states there are 800 toxic chemicals which pose a “very serious and immediate threat to human health and wildlife from EDCs and signals the urgent need for effective regulation and testing of these chemicals”. This comprehensive report outlines (scientifically) “the potential adverse affects of anthropogenic chemicals” as it relates to the world's deteriorating health and is the most up to date global report on EDC's. It is unbelievably sobering and the statement is not very reassuring that (these) “chemicals are merely the tip of the iceberg”.
Toxic Chemicals & Accountability
After reading the WHO Report here are a few personal comments and concerns about the huge amount of untested, unapproved chemicals in our lives today :
There seem to be more questions than answers. Such as how can it be that so many chemicals have been allowed to be used, especially in our food products and yet without testing and pre-approval? The only logical answer I can think of is that it would cost millions of dollars to food and product manufacturers and government.
Truth in Labelling
So many products (food and household) do not include all the ingredients and chemicals used to process or manufacture a product, especially food, e.g a chemical called BPA is used in the lining of tinned food and can leach into tomatoes, and other acidic foods. This information should be accessible and labelled.
What are POPS
POPs (persistent organic pollutants) accumulate in the environment and can enter other products and the environment eg chemical processing water waste, into food for human consumption, our waterways or animal fodder a monumental environmental issue as these chemicals also can accumulate in our bodies and "travel around the world". It was interesting to note in the Report conclusion that it is not only POPs which are Endocrine Disrupters but other chemicals also. Not all the toxic chemicals in the report are POPs.
How to Avoid EDCs
Although the Report states it is impossible to avoid EDC's, I believe there are ways to reduce toxins in our day-to-day lives. Here's a few suggestions :
- Refrain from buying any product with the “skull and crossbones” symbol or “poison” on them. Some common household poisons/drugs from Wikipedia
- Eliminate all toxic pesticides and herbicides such as Roundup from your yard and home as much as possible
- Go through your household cleaning, laundry and other products and discard (at acceptable dump sites) those containing unpronounceable chemicals and cautions such as "vacate the house after using" (years ago we used a pesticide which stated this). Here's a list of toxic cleaners and some alternative suggestions from Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia
- Buy “green” but read the labels as some products are not what they advertise. See CBC Marketplace on Lousy Labels
- Whenever possible, buy "chemical free" food – see the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Lists
- Try to cut down on purchasing processed foods like BPA tinned soups - some producers are no longer using BPA
- Be cautious about buying new furniture with fire retardants and formaldehyde
- Shop local and chemical free at Farmers Markets when you are able
- Start a small organic garden and grow your own greens - a fun project with your kids
Also check out the Links below to other CAP articles on ways to cut chemical use in your family's life.
The WHO / UN report is welcoming, though long overdue. A huge concern is the EDC effect on fetal and childhood development stages when a child is most vulnerable, although the sometimes irreversible damage (disease) may not show up for decades. Please read the press release from the UK-based Alliance for Cancer Prevention in the links below and of course time permitting, the full WHO Report.
"This is a worldwide problem and challenge, requiring global solutions"
(precis from WHO Report Conclusion)
Links & References
- WHO / UN report “State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals – 2012”
- Press Release from Alliance for Cancer Prevention on the WHO Report
- Definition Anthropogenic
- USA EPA Pesticide use 2011 was 1.1 billion pounds and worldwide over 5 billion pounds
Over the last few years Caramel and Parsley articles have stressed the (negative) connection between toxic chemicals in our lives from personal cosmetics to household cleaners and our food as being harmful to our health. Here are a few links to earlier Caramel and Parsley articles on this and related subjects:
- DDT and other POPS in use today
- Diet and lifestyle changes for health reasons Time for a Change
- Minimizing toxins in our homes "The world around us - healthy and wise"
- 78 ingredients in a “simple pie” - you really have to see it to believe it – label reading 101
- Chemical free baby recipe #1
- Chemical free baby recipe #2
- Chemical free baby recipe #3
- CAP article Baby food from scratch
- Old Fashioned rolled oats breakfast
Simplify Simplify Simplify
Here is a list of EDC's
These are mentioned in the WHO report (links & information in brackets mine):
- Alkylphenols (Used in fragrances, detergents, lubricants, fire-retardant materials, etc. Wikipedia )
- Atrazine (is a herbicide )
- Arsenic (How are people exposed to arsenic - American Cancer Society)
- BPA (Health concerns with BPA from Mayo Clinic - BPA or bisphenol A is banned for use as baby bottles in Canada)
- Brominated flame retardants (banned)
- Cadmium (Where it is found and what is it used for - from US EPA )
- Chlorpyrifos (Technical Fact Sheet on this pesticide )
- Hexachlorobenzene (Information from US EPA )
- Lead (banned)
- Methylmercury (Article on Contamination in Fish and Shellfish by L. Griesbauer )
- Organophosphate pesticides (Most widely used pesticide in the world - Pan UK )
- Perfluorooctanoic acid (Commonly found in Teflon - American Cancer Society)
- Perfluorinated alkyl compounds (A complex man-made chemical - a POP used for fire fighting foams, detergents, on rugs and carpets )
- Phthalates (Widely used chemical in hundreds of products including cosmetics, toys, flooring, pharmaceuticals, detergents, baby shampoos, etc)
- Polychlorinated dioxins or simply dioxins
- PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls in drinking water & other uses US EPA )