Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are ubiquitous in the environment being used in the manufacturing of pesticides, industrial chemicals, plastics, cash register receipts, hand sanitizers, medical equipment, dental sealants, personal care products, sunscreens, cosmetics, and other common consumer house hold products such as carpets, vinyl flooring, flame retardant clothes, furniture, and electronics, canned foods, and even non-stick cooking utensils. EDCs are structurally similar to hormones such as estrogen and can bind to hormone receptors in the body potentially causing a host of problems including disrupting normal reproductive processes and increasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in pregnancy. EDCs can pose the greatest threats when exposure occurs in women in early pregnancy during early development, during organogenesis, and during critical postnatal periods when tissues especially the nervous system is still differentiating and developing.
So, what to do?
The Environmental Working Group advocates the following individualized steps one can take to reduce exposure and lessen health risks caused by EDCs;
1) Avoid or minimize the use of bottles and containers made of polycarbonate/hard plastic. Instead, try to use products made of glass, stainless steel or polypropylene;
2) Do not microwave food in plastic containers as this increases the leaching of chemicals into food;
3) Avoid or minimize consumption of canned soups and other canned foods during pregnancy;
4) Ask for dental sealants or composites that are free of BPA;
5) Avoid handling glossy cash register receipts;
6) Don’t make major changes to your home during pregnancy because furniture, carpet, vinyl flooring, and other refurnishing materials contain EDCs;
7) Avoid the use of nonstick pans and other cooking utensils;
8) Check on the chemical content of your personal care products and cosmetics using the rating system devised by the Environmental Working Group.
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