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TEN HARMFUL EDCs

Your body burden may include these commonly encountered EDCs

We’ve created a list of ten of the most common and potentially harmful chemicals found in everyday products, all identified as having endocrine disrupting properties. They are difficult to avoid – our list is to help you make more informed choices. Click on the chemicals to find out where they are used.

1

Phthalates

Found in

Phthalates are used extensively as a plasticiser and found in everyday products such as toiletries, nail polish, and fragrances. Plasticisers are substances that add flexibility, or as the name suggests, plasticity to things that would otherwise be more brittle. Plastic softeners and solvents are used widely in cosmetics and toiletries including shampoos and body lotions. Some phthalates have already been banned for use in consumer products in the EU, but many remain in use.

Risk Level

Phthalates in food packaging are legally approved but their use is restricted in the EU. Small particles can be released from packaging into food, but the identifiable levels are considered safe until conclusive proof is given.

The European Food Safety Authority updated their risk assessment of 5 key phthalates and concluded they present no risk within a safe, ‘Tolerable Daily Intake’ level.

Six phthalates appear on the SIN list

2

Parabens

Found in

This group of chemicals is widely used as a preservative in cosmetics, toiletries, and pharmacy products. Five groups of parabens have been banned for commercial use in the EU. Other parabens are restricted by permitted concentration levels.

Risk Level

Two parabens appear on the SIN list – propylparaben (used as a preservative) and butylparaben (used for its antibacterial/ antifungal properties in cosmetics).

3

Benzophenone

Found in

A naturally occurring organic compound that is found in many fruits including grapes. When synthesised as a chemical it is widely used as a UV filter in suncreams and blocks. It works by absorbing UV rays to protect the skin. The ingredient Benzophenone-3 is currently regulated as a UV filter and is considered safe to use providing the concentration does not exceed 6% in sunscreens and 0.5% in other cosmetic products.

4

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

Found in

This group of pollutants includes pesticides and organophosphates used in agriculture. POPs also include a wide range of industrial chemicals. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used in various manufacturing processes, including flame retardants, have been widely banned but they persist in the environment.

So called ‘Forever chemicals’, POPs persist in the environment long after their first use. Also called dioxins, they can travel long distances from their source, posing a threat to human health and the environment right across the globe. They travel via the food chain and include EDCs widely used in agriculture and manufacturing.

Risk Level

500 POPs are approved for use in the EU with strict regulations about use. Four chemicals used in agriculture on the SIN list.

5

Bisphenol A (BPA)

Found in

Bisphenols (BPA) are a group of chemicals used in the manufacture of hard plastics including toys, bottles, and medical equipment. They are one of the most widely used group of chemicals in use.

Risk Level

BPA is banned in the manufacture of baby bottles but is still widely used in other products under tight regulations. Three phenols are on the SIN list. These are used in household cleaning and agriculture products for their antifungal properties.

6

Triclosan - TCS

Found in

Used an antibacterial in everyday toiletry products such as toothpaste, soap, toys, and detergents.

Risk Level

It is banned for use in the US but not the UK, where it’s tightly regulated.

7

Ethylhexyl methoxcinnamate

Found in

Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate is used as UV filter for the skin and to lengthen product lifespan. It is thought to have oestrogenic effects.

Risk Level

It appears on the SIN list. Due to the size of its molecular structure, some chemicals in this group have the potential to penetrate the skin and enter into the body, especially octinoxates (OMC).

8

Benzylidenes

Found in

Used as an antibacterial and antiseptic to treat skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and other skin conditions. It’s also used in hair products such as hair dye.

Risk Level

One chemical in this group, resorcinol has been identified as having EDC properties, and is on the SIN list.

9

Perchlorates

Found in

Used in many chemical processes as an oxidiser, to activate other chemicals. It is used in dry cleaning with restricted use.

Risk Level

Exposure at high levels can disrupt thyroid function, and some forms appear on the SIN list.

10

Per & Polyfluoroalkyl - PFAS

Found in

Widely used in manufacturing for their water and oil resistance, in cooking pans, waterproof clothing, and stain treatments on furniture.

Risk Level

A large group of ‘forever chemicals’ that can travel freely in air and water, PFAS use is tightly regulated due to its ability to persist – and emerging adverse health effects.

Natural EDC’s – Phytoestrogens

Natural EDC’s – Phytoestrogens

These are plant based oestrogens that can mimic the function of natural oestrogens in the body. They are potentially very harmful to women who are diagnosed with oestrogen receptive breast cancer.

The SIN List

The ‘Substitute It Now’ or SIN list has been developed by the campaign group ChemSec. It includes hazardous chemicals considered a threat to human health and calls on manufacturers to substitute them with safer alternatives right away. The list of 1000 chemicals includes 100 with endocrine disrupting properties, and 32 are listed ONLY for their EDC risk.

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