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No Toxins in the New Year


a blog by Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D., Fertility Centers of Illinois, December 18, 2013

As the holidays are upon us, it is time to start thinking of the New Year and the changes we want to make to live happier, healthier lives. To improve fertility and for safer pregnancy, one of these resolutions could be to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals. In particular, if you are trying to conceive, try to avoid endocrine-disrupting chemicals in your home, in your community and at work.

Endocrine disruptors include phthalates, Bisphenol A (BPA) and polybrominated diethyl. These chemicals can interfere with the hormone system, and they may have an impact on fertility and on a developing fetus. Phthalates can be found in many cosmetic products such as lotions, soaps and makeup. Phthalates have been found to damage the male reproductive organs of fetuses and are associated with behavioral changes in young girls. Exposure to phthalates while pregnant has also been linked to pre-term labor. BPA is used frequently in processing, packaging and storage. It has been found to interfere with embryo implantation in the womb, decrease sperm quality and quality, and even alter gene expressions of reproductive organs. Recent research has linked high levels of BPA to decreased fertility, increased risk of miscarriage and health complications later in life. Human prenatal polybrominated diethyl ethers (compounds used as flame retardant) exposure is associated with changes in prenatal thyroid hormone concentrations, neurodevelopmental abnormalities and male reproductive tract abnormalities in infancy.

To decrease your exposure to endocrine disruptors in 2014, try this:

  • Avoid synthetic fragrances. Don’t use air-fresheners, and choose laundry detergents and cleaners labeled “fragrance-free.”
  • Make your own non-toxic cleaners from ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda.
  • Read the labels on your personal care products and avoid those with chemicals such as parabens and oxybenzone.
  • Reduce exposure to phthalates and BPA by reducing consumption of processed foods, increasing consumption of fresh or frozen foods and reducing consumption of canned foods.
  • Choose products packaged in glass or lined cardboard and look for plastics labeled “BPA-free.” Avoid the use of plastics with recycling code #3 and #7, which means they contain phthalates or BPA. The recycling code is often found on the outside bottom of containers. Choose PVC-plastics that have the recycle #4 or #5.
  • Don’t take paper receipts, which have traces of BPA, if you don’t need them.
  • To avoid polybrominated diethyl eithers, inspect foam items that were bought before 2005, and replace anything that is ripped or breaking down. Be careful when removing old carpet because the foam may contain polybrominated diethyl ethers. When purchasing new products, ask the manufacturer what kind of flame retardants were used.
  • Use a vacuum that is fitted with a HEPA filter to get rid of dust that may contain endocrine disrupting chemicals.

According to the joint statement from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) , there are approximately 700 new chemicals introduced into the U.S. market each year, and more than 84,000 chemical substances are used in manufacturing or processing, or they are being imported. As the consumer, become educated on exposure to potentially damaging chemicals so that you can make the healthiest choices, particularly when you are trying to conceive or are pregnant.


Comments (1)

That's so interesting! Do you think cashiers should wear gloves? Can gloves protect you? i wonder how to receive a receipt safely going forward. Thoughts?

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