Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) are a class of pollutants that has garnered a lot of attention. These are specific chemicals that disrupt or interfere with elements of endocrine signaling, a critical system that controls metabolism, growth, tissue, reproduction, mood, and other factors and functions in the human body. Depending on the type and outcome, EDCs can impact puberty, immune function, stress, weight, bone health, and more. Some common examples of sources of EDCs are:
- Industrial chemicals and pesticides
- Consumer products such as household chemicals, fabrics treated with flame retardants, cosmetics, lotions, products with fragrances, and anti-bacterial soaps
- Processed foods can contain traces of EDCs that leach out of materials used in manufacturing, processing, transportation, and storage
- Dust from weathering construction material or furniture containing lead, flame retardants, and PCBs
- Phytoestrogens, which are chemicals produced by plants that mimic estrogen such as in soy-based products
Due to the impact on humans and the environment, the EPA has even created a special program to screen chemicals to understand how they affect the endocrine system. If you are interested in learning more about this, take a look at our blog on EDCs and Environmental Toxicology.