Are you trying to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins but not sure how to get started? Then you’re in the right spot! I’ve spent the last 10 years researching ways to decrease exposure to xenoestrogens for myself and my family and today I want to share with you the ways you might be inhaling xenoestrogens and what you can do about it.
I have always loved scented products! Bath & Body Works Cucumber Melon is my signature scent of the 90’s! Anyone with me?! Little did I know – and so disappointing – is those fabulous scents are derived from synthetic fragrances, which are a major source of xenoestrogens.
Inhaling xenoestrogens from scented personal products is just the tip of the iceberg. Xenoestrogens can be inhaled from gases, vapors, dusts and mists from smelling candles, perfume & cologne, all types of smoke, household cleaners, and basically anything with a synthetic fragrance.
What Are Xenoestrogens?
There is one group of toxins I’m particularly worried about – xenoestrogens. They are man-made chemicals in our environment, and likely in the products you use every day, but they’re different from other toxins because they’re estrogenic. What is estrogenic? It means they mimic the hormone estrogen and are capable of binding to estrogen receptors throughout the body, and this blocks the action of natural hormones. Xenoestrogens significantly disrupt the body’s fragile hormonal balance and compromise normal hormone function.
When the body’s normal hormonal function is disrupted, this can contribute to an increased risk of many things. Two other ways to expose yourself to xenoestrogens are by ingesting them and absorbing them through your skin.
Xenoestrogens Impact on Health
- Fertility issues
- A more difficult transition into menopause
- Changes in uterine integrity
- Early puberty in children and teens
- Changes in cholesterol metabolism and health of your blood vessels
- Changes in sugar metabolism
- Disruption of thyroid function
- Weight gain
- Changes in bone health
- Imbalanced immune responses
Ways We Are Inhaling Xenoestrogens
The air quality in our home is often worse than the air we breathe outside. One of the reasons is due to the chemicals we use to clean and wash with each day.
If you want to clean up your home’s air quality, here are 5 major ways a person is exposed to xenoestrogens through inhalation and what you can do about it.
Synthetic fragrances are made from many toxic chemicals, one of those being phthalates, a known xenoestrogen. Quite frankly it’s challenging to avoid synthetic fragrances because the majority of personal care products and home-cleaning products contain fragrance.
You basically have two options to avoid toxic fragrances. First, look for fragrance free products. Second, if there is a scent, read the ingredients to determine where the scent comes from. Naturally based fragrances, such as essential oils, are OK and are not endocrine disruptors.
Look up every product because unfortunately we can’t trust labeling. The word “natural” doesn’t have any regulation. You have to research everything, and I use the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Consumer Guides to determine safe products to purchase.
AIR FRESHENER AEROSOL SPRAY
Air fresheners may make your home smell nice, but they also contaminate the air with over 100 different chemicals, including VOCs (terpenes such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene; terpenoids such as linalool and alpha-terpineol; ethanol, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene) and semi-volatile organic compounds (such as phthalates).
I also recommend parting with the beloved wax warmers and wall plug-ins, of which I loved and had like one in every main room!
These fumes can cause earaches, headaches, diarrhea, respiratory & reproductive problems and even brain damage.
What’s The Alternative?
Essential oil diffusers make a great-smelling alternative.
This was a hard one for me to stop buying and using! I LOVE smelly things, and the ambiance a lit candle creates is so lovely. I mean, who doesn’t love a good Yankee Candle? Too bad candles are all filled with “synthetic fragrance,” which is what we’re trying to avoid now that we know the it’s a xenoestrogen.
What’s The Alternative?
I now use an essential oil diffuser with 100% organic essential oils.
Who doesn’t love a good laundry detergent scent? In my previous life, before I found toxic-free living, I had a Tide detergent scent I absolutely adored. I loved that fragrance filing my closet and laundry room and smelling it on my clothes all through my days. Then I learned better. I learned how dangerous that off gassing is to all of us…including our children smelling it all day long. Then, I found out mine was toxic. Most commercially bought laundry detergents are full of all kinds of unsafe junk, and almost always contain synthetic fragrance.
There’s a simple way to check if your laundry detergent is toxic. Go to ewg.org and enter the laundry products you use into their Guide To Healthy Cleaning. This guide will give your product a score based off level of concern when you’re exposure to the ingredients in the product.
What’s The Alternative?
Switch to a fragrance-free, chemical-free, biodegradable detergent. When I was making the switch to safer laundry detergents, I searched ewg.org to find out which were the safe ones to use, and I ended up being able to locate those products at natural health food stores.
HOUSEHOLD CLEANING PRODUCTS
All-purpose cleaners do their job, but they also damage the eyes and lungs. It’s because all-purpose cleaners typically contain chemicals like ammonia, ethylene glycol monobutyl acetate, and sodium hypochlorite. These chemicals can cause anything from skin rashes to brain and kidney damage. And, when mixed with other cleaning solutions such as ammonia and chlorine, these chemicals can go from dangerous to outright deadly.
What’s The Alternative?
Try plant-based cleaning products or use ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and lemon. These products use enzymes that break down stains and odors. In fact, baking soda and water used together in a DIY recipe can remove everyday stains.
Start looking at ewg.org and you’ll be shocked at the score they give some of your products – even the ones you think are natural and healthy. It’s so frustrating and overwhelming!
How To Reduce Exposure To Xenoestrogens Through Inhalation?
Reducing your exposure is going to take some lifestyle changes. I know it can be overwhelming to think about tossing out all your scented products because it’s A LOT! My suggestion is to choose one thing to focus on at a time. Start with the easiest ones to change first and slowly proceed from there. It might take you a while and that’s OK.
Read the ingredients carefully, but if you’re not sure what you’re looking out for, use one of the Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guides, which rates specific products with a score. You can find items that received an A score.
How To Detoxify Xenoestrogens
The liver is the body’s primary detoxifying organ, so it’s important to eat foods that support the liver’s two detoxification pathways and processes, along with the elimination phase.
Phase 1 | Support with:
B-vitamins (Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Niacin (Vit B1), Pyridoxine (Vit B6), Folate (5-MTHF), Vitamin B12)
Antioxidants (Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Carotenoids, Curcuminoids, EGCG)
Phase 2 | Support with:
Sulphur-rich foods (ie: sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onion, mustard powder, ginger)
Amino Acids (glutamine, glycine, taurine, cysteine, methionine)
Here's information about the 3 phases of liver detoxification.
To kick-start your xenoestrogen detox, I find it convenient to take a detox blend that contains all the liver supporting nutrients in one capsule, such as Dim-X. It contains milk thistle, glutathione, broccoli sprout extract (for the sulphoraphane), and a few other powerful ingredients to support endocrine balance and promote normal detoxification of environmental estrogens in both men and women.
And, when you know better you do better. (Maya Angelou, right?)
To get started, I made a checklist with specific to-do’s in order to make gradual changes around your house. Sign up to receive my handy xenoestrogen checklist.
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods