We come into contact with a variety of chemicals in everyday life through the products we use, food we eat, and the air we breathe. Most of these chemicals, when exposed to in small amounts, are harmless to the human body. A certain group of chemicals called EDCs, or endocrine-disrupting chemicals, can affect sperm and egg health, embryo quality, and reduce a couple's chance of having a healthy baby.
Here's some more information on EDCs:
- EDCs can be found in common household items--recognize the names "BPA," "phthalates," and "parabens?"
- EDCs natural occur in many foods and the environment, but post-WWII industrialization led to an increase of harmful chemicals in what we consume
- 95% of people have EDCs in their bodies, but recent studies show that higher levels of EDCs can lead to infertility or struggles with conceiving
So what can you do to avoid these EDCs? Check out these seven tips from Mark Green--lecturer of reproductive biology at the University of Melbourne School of BioSciences--to avoid EDCs and perhaps help your fertility:
- Read labels and packages: EDCs are present on fresh fruits and vegetables from pesticide sprays and the coatings on plastic food packaging and canned goods. Be sure to wash all fresh produce prior to eating and avoid processed, pre-packaged foods. Labels on foods will tell you about additives, preservatives, and antibacterial agents that you should also avoid. Limit your consumption of oily fish--salmon, tuna, sardines, and other fatty meats--because these foods contain higher quantities of EDCs.
- Heat Carefully: EDCs can be found in takeout containers, cling wrap, and aluminum foil. When heating, these EDCs can be absorbed into food. To solve this problem, store and heat your food in china or glass and cover with a paper towel or plate when reheating.
- Avoid Soft Plastics: Plastic bottles for water and sodas are made with EDC-containing plasticizers. Plastic bottles, when sitting in a hot environment, can release high levels of EDCs into your drink. To solve this problem, drink out of glass or hard plastic bottles (like most reusable bottles). However, even bottles that specify "BPA free" contain other EDCs like BPS, which can be just as harmful!
- Toss Out Your Receipts: The shiny finish on receipts contain BPA, so it's best to avoid handling these receipts. Throw out the old receipts at the bottom of your purse or wallet, and opt to go paperless with receipts whenever possible. It's good for you, your baby, and the environment.
- Keep the Air in Your Home Clean: When it comes to EDCs, basically anything you can smell in your home exposes you to them. Scary right? As much as possible, avoid air fresheners, smoke, strong chemicals, bug sprays, and plastic smells and fumes. The best way to avoid these issues in your home is through the use of air purifiers and allowing the fresh air in through windows whenever possible.
- Clean "green": Many household cleaning products contain harmful EDCs. Although it۪s nearly impossible to avoid detergents, hand sanitizers, cleaning agents, carpet cleaners, paints, glues, and varnishes, much of your exposure to EDCs can be reduced by using "green" alternatives whenever possible.
- Use Paraben-free Products: EDC's known as "parabens" can be found in shampoos, conditioners, hair dye, body washes, cosmetics, and lotions. Many products, are advertised as paraben-free so you don't even have to search through the labels. Also, stores like Target create simple online filters to find paraben-free beauty products.
These changes, although seemingly drastic, are often simple solutions to reduce your EDC intake. With even a few of these changes, you could be greatly influencing the health of you, your family, and your future child.