The endocrine system is a network of glands and organs that produce, store, and secrete hormones. When functioning normally, the endocrine system works with other systems to regulate your body's healthy development and function throughout life.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are substances in the environment (air, soil, or water supply), food sources, personal care products, and manufactured products that interfere with the normal function of your body’s endocrine system. Since EDCs come from many different sources, people are exposed in several ways, including the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. EDCs also can enter the body through the skin.
EDCs can disrupt many different hormones, which is why they have been linked to numerous adverse human health outcomes including alterations in sperm quality and fertility, abnormalities in sex organs, endometriosis, early puberty, altered nervous system function, immune function, certain cancers, respiratory problems, metabolic issues, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems, growth, neurological and learning disabilities, and more.
Even if some health effects are not fully proven, taking precautions is wise. Become familiar with EDCs to which you and your family may be exposed. Try to avoid unnecessary, preventable exposure to EDC-containing consumer products. The following is a list of precautionary steps that one can take to minimize EDC exposures. These precautions are especially important if you are pregnant or planning a family.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals can be found in the following everyday household items:
Car and furniture upholstery
Food packaging that contains plastics
Protective coatings and sealants