The EWG Releases Its Latest Guide: The Dirty Dozen of Endocrine-Disruptors

Screen Shot of EWG's Dirty Dozen of Endocrine Disruptors Guide on EWG Website

The EWG’s guide to the worst endocrine-disruptors is available on its website.

Not sure which chemicals to avoid that throw your hormones out of balance? Well, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) just made it a little easier with its newly released guide to endocrine disruptors that it developed in conjunction with the Keep a Breast Foundation (KAB). In it, 12 key endocrine disruptors (also called hormone disruptors), their sources, and some helpful tips are described.

What are endocrine/hormone disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that disrupt our endocrine system, which mainly includes the adrenal, pituitary, thyroid, and sex (i.e., ovaries, testes) glands.  They often closely imitate hormones and manage to attach themselves to hormone receptor sites, inevitably wreaking havoc by throwing our hormones out of balance. But the EWG guide explains how they can do other tricks as well, such as changing one type of hormone into another and attaching to other hormones in our body! The result? We end up with breast cancer, reproductive problems, and children with developmental problems to name just a few serious consequences. More detail on the health consequences of each chemical are well discussed in the EWG guide.

Which chemicals are the worst endocrine disruptors? 

According to the EWG, the top ones to be most concerned about, or the “dirty dozen” as they aptly call it, are:

  • arsenic
  • atrazine
  • BPA
  • dioxin
  • fire retardants
  • glycol ethers
  • lead
  • mercury
  • organophosphate pesticides
  • perchlorate
  • perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs)
  • phthalates

These chemicals differ widely in how they are used. For example, some are sprayed on crops and others are used in industrial processes, but they all have one thing in common — they end up inside us and mess with our hormones!

Why avoid them?

You might be asking yourself if it’s a really big deal or not. Well, unfortunately the answer is yes! Everyday we are bombarded with these chemicals by inhaling, touching, eating, and absorbing them through our skin. They are in the plastic bottles we drink from, the cosmetics we apply, the receipts we touch, the carpet we walk on, the furniture we sit on, the clothing we wear, and many everyday household products we use to name a few sources.

Unfortunately, our bodies can only take so much — and eliminate so much!  What our kidneys and livers can’t clean up through the body’s natural detoxification processes, inevitably ends up in our system. For example, according to the EWG guide, up to 93% of Americans have BPA in their systems and a whopping 99% have PFCs! Also, as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences points out in its overview of endocrine disruptors, these chemicals pose a great risk during prenatal and early postnatal development, so they are affecting future generations as well! Plus, they aren’t good for the environment and many of them persist in our soil and water. Some never ever biodegrade.

What can you do about these chemicals?

The EWG notes how some of these chemicals are going to persist in the environment for decades to come, but they also offer some very useful tips on how to avoid each chemical individually, so check it out. However, I found it lacking some general guidelines that you can keep in mind for daily living, so stay tuned for my next post in which I will detail the top ways to avoid hormone disruptors.

Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2013 – 2015 All rights reserved.
Photos © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2013 – 2015.

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