With so many lists of things not to eat or do while pregnant, it can be quite stressful and confusing. Every day we surround ourselves with multitudes of environmental toxins and cancer-causing factors that could hinder the health of our growing child without knowing it. For this article, we’ll look at three of the known environmental impacts on the womb and growing children; Endocrine Disruptors, Plastics and Pesticides.
Endocrine Disruptors Chemicals (EDCs): TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc.) is an organization that focuses primarily on the human health and environmental problems caused by low-dose and/or ambient exposure to chemicals that interfere with development and function. They noted that
EDCs can interfere with how genes are programmed in the developing tissues of the unborn, thus changing how a teen or an adult would ordinarily respond to the normal chemical signals that control function as they mature. Disorders that have increased in prevalence in recent years such as abnormal male gonadal development, infertility, ADHD, autism, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and childhood and adult cancers are now being linked to fetal exposure. (TEDX, 2016).
How can we identify EDCs in our products? What should one look for? Although EDCs are found in a multitude of places, from children’s toys to furniture, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently published a list of the 12 worst hormone-disrupting chemicals you may be coming into contact with on a regular basis. Here’s a good document on the chemicals and how you can avoid them.
Plastics: Everyday items like water bottles or Tupperware containers used to hold your leftovers could be leaking chemicals into your natural spring water or organic locally produced foods.
Manufacturers often add different chemicals to plastics to give them the exact characteristics they’re looking for, like flexibility, strength, and reduced production cost. These components can include phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) — all of which alter hormone expression in nonhuman animals and humans (Dvorsky, 2013).
There is a code manufacturers use to identify the types of plastics involved in creating each of the products. This code is called the Resin Identification Code. It has a range from 1 to 7. While some of the plastics are safe, avoid any of the plastics with the #3, #6 and #7 (usually they are stamped on the bottoms of the containers) (Dvorsky, 2013). The types of hazardous plastics are below:
Plastic #3 is called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). These are the plastics you’ll typically find in shrink wrap, bath tub toys and tamper resistant lids. The chemicals in PVC have been linked to asthma in children (Dvorsky, 2013).
Plastic #6 is called Polystyrene (PS) or also known as Styrofoam. Anyone who has bought carry-out foods or a coffee at a gas station has used Styrofoam in one form or another. Studies have shown that exposure to styrene can cause increased frequency of spontaneous abortions and decreased frequency of births (Dvorsky, 2013).
Plastic #7 is the catch-all number called Other. This plastic made of a resin other than the 6 standard types on the Resin Identification Code. These are the plastics that make reusable water bottles, some ketchup bottles and even baby bottles (Dvorsky, 2013). Many of you have heard of some commercials where they market BPA-free products. The reason being BPA (or Bisphenol-A) is usually in plastic #7. BPA affects the reproductive organs and glands, as well as been linked to obesity and insulin resistance (Dvorsky, 2013).
While it might be difficult to eliminate all EDCs from your home, at least one can go through their cabinets and eliminate any of the plastics with the numbers 3, 6, or 7.
Pesticides: Every avid gardener wants a healthy garden free of beetles, aphids and other crop destroying insects. The most popular solution is to apply pesticides. TEDX’s concern about pesticides is that “they have been designed to disrupt biological systems, causing death to target organisms, such as insects or plants. Some actually work by acting on the hormone systems of insects and plants. The problem is that the biochemistry of most living things is similar enough that humans, wildlife and plants can also be adversely affected by pesticides.” (TEDX, 2016) So, what can you do? You can switch from chemically based pesticides to more holistic and natural solutions. According to a study done by BioMed Research International, even Roundup, a common herbicide, was noted as one of the most toxic they had tested (Masnage, 2014). Some alternatives can be found here (OWOW, 2016).
The more we eliminate chemicals from our households, the quicker we allow our hormones and cellular structure to normalize and self-regulate, allowing the genes of our children and ourselves to develop to their fullest capacity.
Dvorsky, George (2013, March). How to Recognize the Plastics that are Hazardous to your Health. Retrieved from http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-to-recognize-the-plastics-that-are-hazardous-to-you-461587850
EWG (2014, October). Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors. Retrieved from http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors
Masnage, R., Defarge, N., Sprious de Vendomois, J., & Seralini, G.E. (2014) Major pesticides are more toxic to human cells than their declared active principles. Biomed Research International 2014. doi: 10.1155/2014/179691. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/
OWOW (2016). Less Toxic Product List. Retrieved from http://ourwaterourworld.org/
TEDX (2016). The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/assets/media/documents/EDFactSheet11-7-11.pdf