The Link Between Common Household Chemicals and Your Health
From the desk of Jessica L. Molleur, Lic.Ac., DNBAO...
Greening Your Household
According to a 2003 report, more than 60 hormone-disrupting chemicals and 27 pesticides were found in samples taken from 120 homes in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. Many common household and workplace items contain chemicals that have been linked to fertility disorders and other health conditions in men and women. Several recent studies have found dioxins, flame-retardants, pesticides, PCBs, and other pollutants in human breast milk. The following is a list of hormone-disrupting chemicals that you should become familiar with and avoid:
- Dioxins: Non-organic beef, poultry, and dairy products. Also found in bleach and chlorine products, bleached toilet paper, sanitary napkins, and tampons.
- BPAs: Water bottles, baby bottles, canned food, and more. BPA increases insulin resistance and mimics estrogen.
- Xenoestrogens: Found in plastic bottles, wraps, and food storage containers.
- Parabens: Found in perfumes, bath and body products, make-up, and anything listed with a “fragrance.”
- PCBs: Pesticides, paints, fire retardants, and wood floor finishing’s.
- PVCs: Found in plumbing fixtures, rain gear, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, and toys.
- Pesticides & Fungicides: Choose non-chemical treatments whenever possible.
- In the early 1970s as part of an investigation into reproduction, a group of rhesus monkeys were exposed to many environmental pollutants, including PCBs. Endometriosis developed in 79% of the monkeys who were exposed, and in only 33% of the monkeys who were not.
- Women with higher levels of PFOA and PFOS in their blood took longer to become pregnant than women with lower levels, according to the study of 1,240 women. Compared to women with relatively small amounts of the chemicals in their blood, the incidence of infertility increased by 60 to 154% in women with higher concentrations. Infertility, in the terms of the study, was described as a woman taking longer than 12 months to become pregnant, or seeking infertility treatments. Other studies have tied them to liver, immune system, developmental, and reproductive problems.
- Phthalates are produced in many chemical forms and are known to be toxic to the reproductive system. Several phthalate compounds have caused reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy, and structural abnormalities in the reproductive systems of male test animals, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals.
Ten Ways to Reduce Chemical Exposure
- Replace cleaning and all bleach products with eco-friendly products such as Ecover or Seventh Generation.
- Replace bleached paper products with non-bleached substitutes: toilet paper, paper towels, tampons, scented napkins, and tampons. Look for the phrases: “non-bleached” or “un-bleached”.
- Replace plastic containers and plastic wrap with glass storage containers such as Pyrex.
- Give up the water bottle habit and avoid all #7 plastics. Recycle any plastic water bottles or beverage container that does not have a BPA-free label. This includes baby bottles, many canned foods, and soda cans. Replace them with a stainless steel water bottle such as Klean Kanteen or choose Eden Soy for BPA-free canned goods.
- Begin reading labels on your bath and body products. As you run out of each item, find a suitable replacement. See #5 for some good suggestions. Avoid products with the following ingredients:
- Methyl, Propyl, Butyl & Ethyl Parabens
- Diethanolamine (DEA), Triethanolamine (TEA)
- Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea
- Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulfate
- Propylene Glycol
- PVP/VA Copolymer
- Stearalkonium Chloride
- Synthetic Colors
- Synthetic Fragrances
- When choosing skin care and makeup products, avoid products that contain the above ingredients. Great resources and websites for safe sunscreens, skin care, and makeup include:
- Start Purchasing Organic Produce: Begin with the top 10 fruits and vegetables that have the highest exposure to pesticides and other chemicals: Peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, cherries, grapes, raspberries, pears, and tomatoes.
- Start Purchasing Organic Meats: Choose organic meats when looking for a source of protein (beef, chicken, pork). Check out http://www.localharvest.org/ to find a local CSA to provide you with local organic produce and meats.
- Start Purchasing Organic Dairy Products: You’ll be avoiding pesticides, bovine growth hormone (BGH), and antibiotics
- Go Green with Household items. Each time you make a purchase for your home, consider the packaging, materials, or chemicals required to manufacture the product. In most cases, there are greener options. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- Sinclair, M.D., Wayne. "Environmental Causes of Infertility." n. pag. Web. 19 Jul 2011. <http://www.chem-tox.com/infertility/>.
- "Researchers Report That Some Household Chemicals May Reduce Women's Fertility." n. pag. Web. 19 Jul 2011. <http://www.asrn.org/journal-american-nursing-review/531-researchers-report-that-some- household-chemicals-may-reduce-womens-fertility.html>.
- "Phthalates." n. pag. Web. 19 Jul 2011. <http://www.ewg.org/chemindex/term/480>.4.
- Worwood, Valerie Ann., Stonehouse, Julia. The Endometriosis Natural Treatment Program. Novato, California: New World Library, 2003.
- Worwood, Valerie Ann., Stonehouse, Julia. The Endometriosis Natural Treatment Program. Novato, California: New World Library, 2003. pg 120.
Jessica L. Molleur is a licensed acupuncturist, herbalist and massage therapist in Massachusetts and California. She holds a Masters of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, CA. Her training also includes a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Physiology from the University of California at Davis, CA. Jessica first became interested in acupuncture as a soccer player searching for an alternative to knee surgery.
She is a National Diplomate of Acupuncture, Oriental Medicine and Chinese Herbology through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). Following her acupuncture licensure, she became a Diplomate of Acupuncture Orthopedics. This orthopedic specialty certification is held by fewer than 300 acupuncturists in the United States. Areas of specialty include women's health, infertility, pediatrics, and sports medicine. For patients interested in learning more about acupuncture for fertility and IVF, please click here.