EDCs Myth vs. Fact

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Heather Patisaul, PHD

Additional Resources
Environmental Working Group
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Myth – There is a safe, permissible limit for toxic chemicals (below which they are harmless)

Fact – Not true, as some herbicides are able to mimic and replace estrogens in the body even in the very low parts per trillion concentration range. Some studies suggest that bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics and parabens in cosmetic products can have a greater hormone mimicking action as concentrations decrease.

Myth – You must swallow an EDC in order for it to enter your system

Fact – Your skin is a living organ and not a barrier to toxic substances. In many cases, the dermal (skin) route for chemical absorption is faster and more harmful because absorbed chemicals can enter circulation without being metabolized.

Myth – If it’s offered in my grocery story or advertised on TV, I can be sure it’s safe

Fact – Many chemicals enter the market without any safety testing at all. Product testing is rarely able to simulate chronic, low exposure over a long period, which is typically how humans are exposed. Their potential for harm may not be realized, sometimes for decades.

Myth – I have been using cleaning supplies, face washes, and laundry detergents with chemical compounds for years with no adverse effects.

Fact – It is true that many products are not harmful when used properly and sparingly. It is impossible to know, however, that a product is truly “safe.” Choosing products without known EDCs is a proactive way of safeguarding your health and the health of your family.

Myth – All plastic bottles are the same

Fact – At the bottom of your plastic bottle, you’ll find a triangular shape with arrows with a number inside. Those numbers represent the type of plastic used in making the bottle. Plastics with recycling labels #1, #2 & #4 may be safer choices as they do not contain BPA. However, BPA is not the only endocrine disruptor in plastic so just because something is “BPA-free” does not mean that it is EDC-free. When possible, avoid disposable plastics.