What are hormone disruptors?
Scientists have found over 850 different chemical ingredients that have the potential to affect the hormone systems of fish, wildlife and people.The hormone system directs how our bodies grow, develop and function. Very low doses of hormone disruptors can change the way our bodies work and can lead to many different chronic health problems.
Women can pass these chemicals to their babies during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Children are most likely to experience the harmful effects of hormone disruptors.
Where are hormone disruptors found?
There are various consumer products that may contain hormone disruptors. They include:
- Household Cleansers - such as floor wax, dish soap, scouring powder, detergents
- Personal Care Products - like shampoos, anti-bacterial soaps, lotions, deodorants
- Household Dust that may contain flame retardants found in foam cushions and mattresses, textiles, electronics
- Plastic items - including dishes, cling wraps, toys, furniture, clothing, shower curtains
- Food - containing certain additives, metals or pesticide residues, as well as some food packaging and can linings
- Medicine - both prescription and over-the-counter.
How do I avoid hormone disruptors?
Choose greener cleaners
Traditional household cleaners often contain toxic chemicals that can affect your health and our waterways.
- Use baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and pure soap flakes to make all of the cleansers that you need to keep your home fresh and clean.
- See our Housecleaning Without Harm fact sheet for recipes.
Choose safer personal care products
Even if the label says a product is “gentle” or “natural,” it may not be the safest choice.
- Read labels and choose products with safer ingredients using the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database
- Less is best -- use fewer products in smaller amounts and/or less often.
- Avoid products with Triclosan and Fragrance.
- Limit children’s use of cosmetics.
- See our Choosing Safer Personal Care Products fact sheet or visit the Thunder Bay District Health Unit's Healthy Babies and Families for more information.
Keep your house as dust-free as possible
Household dust often contains fine particles of chemicals from things like flame retardants found in foam cushions and mattresses, textiles, or electronics.
- Use a damp cloth or HEPA vacuum.
- Avoid flame retardants such as PBDE.
- Cover or replace any exposed carpet padding or foam pads on upholstered furniture.
- Be careful to clean up all of the dust when removing old carpeting and consider replacing it with ceramic tile, linoleum or hardwood.
- See our fact sheet on Avoiding Flame Retardants for more information.
Reduce the plastics in your life
Plastics are made using non-renewable energy and clean water, then are thrown away or recycled into low grade products.
- When possible replace plastic items with glass, ceramic, stainless steel, wood, cotton or other natural materials.
- Avoid water bottled in plastic. A refillable stainless steel bottle is a good alternative if you need to carry water with you.
- Ensure that soft plastic products such as teething toys and shower curtains do not contain vinyl (PVC).
- If you can’t avoid plastics, choose safer plastics. Avoid #7 PC plastic, and prefer 4, 5, 1 and 2 for food use. Avoid # 3 and 6.
- Learn to choose safer plastics from Playing it Safe: Plastics and Smart Plastics Guide Healthier Food Uses of Plastics.
Minimize exposure by keeping food healthy
Whenever possible, choose unprocessed and organic foods to reduce exposure to harmful food additives and pesticide residues
- Never use plastic containers or cling wrap in the microwave, even if it is labelled ‘microwave-safe’. Store food in ceramic or glass containers and choose waxed paper or a plate over cling wrap.
- Choose fresh or frozen foods over canned when possible to minimize your exposure to the plastic lining found in cans.
- Choose unprocessed and organic foods when possible to reduce exposure to harmful food additives and pesticide residues.
Dispose of unused medicine properly
Protect your health and the environment by returning unused or old medicines for safe disposal.
- Return unused medicines (including over-the-counter drugs) to your pharmacy.
- Never flush old medicines down the toilet or throw them down the sink. The drugs will harm fish and other creatures living in streams and lakes.
Looking for more information?
Follow us on Pinterest for more tips on how to avoid hormone disruptors.
Download and share our fact sheets:
Check our continuously updated resource list: