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If you eat enough of it, arsenic will kill you outright.
In smaller amounts, arsenic can cause skin, bladder and lung cancer. Less well known: Arsenic messes with your hormones!
These incredibly persistent chemicals, known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers or PBDEs, have since been found to contaminate the bodies of people and wildlife around the globe – even polar bears.
These chemicals can imitate thyroid hormones in our bodies and disrupt their activity.
PBDEs are incredibly persistent, so they’re going to be contaminating people and wildlife for decades to come. It’s virtually impossible, but passing better toxic chemical laws that require chemicals to be tested before they go on the market would help reduce our exposure.
A few things that can you can do in the meantime include: use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which can cut down on toxic-laden house dust; avoid reupholstering foam furniture; take care when replacing old carpet (the padding underneath may contain PBDEs).
In animals, lead has been found to lower sex hormone levels.
Research has also shown that lead can disrupt the hormone signaling that regulates the body’s major stress system (called the HPA axis). Crumbling old paint is a major source of lead exposure, so get rid of it carefully.
But studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates can trigger what’s known as “death-inducing signaling” in testicular cells, making them die earlier than they should. If that’s not enough, studies have linked phthalates to hormone changes, lower sperm count, less mobile sperm, birth defects in the male reproductive system, obesity, diabetes and thyroid irregularities. A good place to start is to avoid plastic food containers, children’s toys (some phthalates are already banned in kid’s products), and plastic wrap made from PVC, which has the recycling label #3.
Atrazine has been linked to breast tumors, delayed puberty and prostate inflammation in animals, and some research has linked it to prostate cancer in people. Buy organic produce and get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
For help finding a suitable filter, check out EWG’s buying guide: org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/ Did you know that a specific signal programs cells in our bodies to die?
You probably have more stress in your life than you want, so the last thing you need is something making it harder for your body to deal with it – especially when this stress system is implicated in high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety and depression. A good water filter can also reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
(Check out org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide/ for help finding a filter.) And if you need another reason to eat better, studies have also shown that children with healthy diets absorb less lead. In fact, this toxin is lurking in your food and drinking water.
(You can get help finding one at: org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide) As for food, it’s pretty much impossible to avoid perchlorate, but you can reduce its potential effects on you by making sure you are getting enough iodine in your diet. What do breast milk and polar bears have in common?