Reducing Your Exposure:
Avoiding Hormone Disruptors 

What Are Hormone Disruptors?
Scientists believe that many synthetic chemicals act as endocrine disruptors, or hormone disruptors, interfering with our bodies' natural hormone systems and causing a wide array of health problems.  Hormone disruptors often act by imitating our natural hormones. Our bodies are "fooled" by these toxins, which can bind to the same sites to which natural hormones bind, thereby altering, magnifying or blocking the function of the natural hormones.

One hormone often imitated by toxins is estrogen. Toxins that imitate estrogen are called xenoestrogens and may be linked to high rates of breast cancer, endometriosis and other reproductive problems in women and decreased sperm counts, prostate and testicular cancer in men. Research shows that other health problems which are on the rise, such as thyroid disorders, diabetes and behavioral abnormalities in children, may also be linked to chemicals interefering with our hormones.
 How can we reduce our exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals? One of the best ways is to educate ourselves on which products contain these chemicals and find safe alternatives. We can also act in our communities to reduce the levels of harmful chemicals in our homes, schools, parks and workplaces.


Many pesticides contain chemicals known to have hormone disrupting effects and are used in lawns, gardens, food crops and on pets to control unwanted pests. To reduce your exposure: Organochlorines
Many organochlorines, or compounds which contain chlorine and carbon, do not easily breakdown in the environment and accumulate to high concentrations in the fat of humans and animals. Many organochlorines are hormone disruptors. Organochlorines often are produced as byproducts of industrial processes involving chlorine, organic matter and heat – such as bleached paper-making, burning of hazardous, municipal & medical waste, and chemical production. They are also found in pesticides, pharmaceuticals, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic and more. To reduce your exposure: Plastics
Plastics may contain two chemicals considered to be hormone disruptors—bisphenol A and phthalates. Phthalates are used to soften plastics and bisphenol A is a key ingredient in certain types of hard plastics. Bisphenol A is also found in some dental sealants. To reduce your exposure: Heavy Metals
Lead is used in glazes, lead crystal, brass plumbing fixtures, solder, food cans, lead batteries and as a stabilizer for PVC plastics. Dust from lead-based paint settles on window sills and other surfaces. Soil may be contaminated by leaded gasoline. To reduce your exposure to lead: Mercury is used in the production of chlorine, button-type batteries, fluorescent lights, pesticides, thermometers, polyurethane and more. Most dental fillings are mercury amalgam. More than half of all cadmium is used in rechargeable batteries. It is also used as a stabilizer in plastics. Mercury and cadmium, released by fossil fuels during combustion, end up in the air, water and soil. To reduce your exposure to mercury and cadmium: Detergents
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are a class of chemicals which are hormone disruptors. They are commonly used as detergents in many industrial processes (including the production of oil, pulp & paper, synthetic and natural textiles and leather) and common household products. They are used as additives in latex paints and cosmetics, as anti-oxidants and stabilizers in some plastics and in some pesticides. Nonoxynol-9, a form of NPEs, is the active ingredient in contraceptive spermicides. To reduce exposure: UN-FUN FACTS
75,000 synthetic chemicals are in use today.

1000 new chemicals are created each year.

According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, there is adequate information on toxicity for only 2% of the synthetic chemicals released into our environment.

What You Can Do
How You Can Help
Women's Health and the Environment Network
c/o Citizens for a Better Environment
152 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 510
Milwaukee, WI 53203
414/271-7280 ~ 414/270-2904 fax ~