Over the last several decades, our environment has changed enormously. Comparing a playground in 1962 to the same playground in 2019 gives some sense of how thoroughly we have surrounded ourselves and our children with chemicals that may have profound impacts on the hormones in our bodies. As just one example, bisphenol A found in hard clear plastics and the linings of cans can mimic estrogen to some extent. It might also disrupt the way we maintain our weight in a normal range, possibly contributing to the obesity epidemic. What other hormone disruptors are we being exposed to?

DES as an Example of Hormone Disruptors:

Some of the changes that researchers have unearthed in response to these endocrine disruptors might actually have trans-generational effects. That seems to be the case for DES, diethylstilbestrol. This estrogen mimic was prescribed to pregnant women for decades to prevent miscarriage. Although it wasn’t effective for that purpose, it did have consequences for the children of the women who took it. Scientists are now studying the possibility that the grandchildren may also be affected.

Are BPA Substitutes Safer?

Public outcry has led companies to replace BPA in certain products. But are the replacements, such as BPS, any safer? That is not clear. How can we identify and avoid potential endocrine disruptors? Will exposure to endocrine disruptors reduce human fertility and make it harder for couples to conceive?

Other Hormone Disruptors:

Flame retardants, phthalates and chemical treatments to help fabric resist stains are widespread in our current environment. There are ways to minimize your exposure, however. Read the labels on any furniture you buy. Inspect the recycle code numbers on plastic containers before you purchase them and take them home. (Stay away from 1, 3 and 7.) Don’t put your own plastic containers in the microwave or the dishwasher. Use glass containers for your food whenever you can. Eventually, consumers will need to pressure manufacturers to get endocrine disruptors out of the products we buy and use.

This Week’s Guest:

Dr. Leonardo Trasande is an internationally renowned leader in children’s environmental health and an associate professor in pediatrics, environmental medicine, and population health at New York University. He is also the Director of the Division of Environmental Pediatrics and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Trasande is the author of Sicker, Fatter, Poorer: The Urgent Threat of Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals to Our Health and Future . . . and What We Can Do About It.

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The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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Air Date:March 23, 2019

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  1. Jack

    According to research P.P.featured a couple of years ago, #1 plastic is not too bad unless it is exposed to any heat. Women were warned not to store their water bottles in the car due to chemicals leaching out. OK but was it shipped in a cooled truck-can’t tell? So avoid it, and you sure can’t wash it and reuse it! And don’t get me started on cans (like beer)!

  2. Marilyn J.

    As usual, a wonderful program. Thanks so much!
    As an aside, would like to hear a program, or the latest info on glyphosate (herbicide) that we all thought/were told had a short half-life. However, once it gets down into roots, where it kills the plant, it may not only stay in the soil, but also by eating veggies planted in the spot, be uptaken by us as we consume those veggies. Tests seem to be indicative of bigger problems than we thought.

  3. Megan

    A question for the team:
    Let’s say endocrine disruptors are indeed altering one’s hormones — we’ll use an adult for the purposes of this conversation. Would you think that minimizing chemical exposures could reverse weight gain, thyroid dysfunction, and other adverse effects? Or is it too little, too late once the disruption has occurred.
    Enlightening episode!

  4. Linda

    Dr Trasande actually said to stay away from plastics number 3, 6 and 7. Other plastics he recommended not to microwave and not to wash in the dishwasher.

  5. Janine

    Why does it have to be up to consumers to make manufacturers behave responsibly? As consumers we don’t necessarily have a choice in what we buy. We get what we need and have no way of knowing how it was manufactured or what might be in it. We can try to avoid plastic packaging but in many cases there’s just no alternative. There will have to be more regulation, unfortunately.

  6. Jerry
    Mesa, AZ

    I think it is not right to diss this information without listening to Podcast first.

  7. Alice

    Very surprised that air fresheners, scented laundry products, scented personal care items were not strongly mentioned. It is nearly impossible to breathe safe fresh air anywhere. We are now living in a chemical soup.

  8. Jay

    This article really hits home. When you said “Eventually, consumers will need to pressure manufacturers to get endocrine disruptors out of the products we buy and use.”, you could not have spoken a stronger truth. Until we stop purchasing dangerously packaged products, the message will not be heard. Why is it that manufacturers make organic products, yet they package them in plastic rather than glass? Probably because it’s cheaper for them. All they care about is their bottom line. Until we as consumers take a stand not to purchase these products nothing is going to change. I for one choose not to expose my loved ones to these dangers.

  9. BRUCE

    I think it is simply stupid to say that I should “stay away” from buying plastics that are marked with a “1.” That is how almost all bottled water is packaged. The plastic is hard and well suited to containing fluids. It is not given to leaching and is the industry standard for a reason. I don’t see any practical substitute for it, and warning your readers to “stay away” is fear mongering.

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