How to Keep Your Family Safe from Toxic Chemicals

The New Pollution

staying safe in a toxic world

Brian Maranan Pineda

EDC exposure works like this: You go shopping and stock up on canned goods, baby formula, cleaning supplies, and shampoo, all of which may either contain BPA, DEP, or other endocrine disruptors or absorb them via their EDC-containing cans and packages. Then you eat, breathe, and in some cases, rub these chemicals directly on your skin. Once they're in your body, you release small doses into our waterways every time you urinate. And when you're finished with the products, you send the leftovers or their containers to break down in a landfill, allowing them to circulate further in the environment.

EDCs do their damage early on, causing small changes to a fetus's developing cells that may have a ripple effect throughout that child's life. "We used to think that the placenta protected a fetus from these kinds of exposures, but studies have shown that phthalates and other endocrine disruptors cross the placenta barrier," says Dr. Landrigan. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, released a biomonitoring report last year that detected more than 200 environmental toxins in the cord blood of newborn babies. Fetuses accumulate these chemicals in higher concentrations than their moms do because their immature liver and kidneys can't excrete them as well as adult organs can. Although Ellings says that 7-month-old Nick is happy and healthy, it's too soon to know whether his early chemical exposures will lead to future problems.

These are three of the most common EDCs and the specific ways you and your family are exposed.

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