Exposure to a slew of toxic chemicals is making us sick, increasing COVID infections, and ushering in an era of male infertility. Action Alert!
Exposures to every day chemicals are making us more susceptible to infection by the COVID-19 virus. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are found in food packaging, cookware, plastics, and many other consumer products. These chemicals are linked to the very diseases that increase our risk of serious COVID-19 infection. Government agencies like the FDA and EPA continue to ignore the clear dangers posed by these chemicals—another example of the cronyism and deference to industry that puts American lives at risk.
Chronic disease in the US has been on the rise for 50 years and coincides with an increase in our exposure to chemicals in common consumer products. Endocrine disrupting chemicals have been shown to interfere with immune function and the regulation of inflammation. Research is increasingly linking many of COVID comorbid diseases to environmental, as well as genetic, causes; thousands of scientific papers have been published over the last two decades linking endocrine disruptor exposure to the very comorbidities that increase the risk of dying from COVID-19. We reported recently on research demonstrating that our increased exposure to toxins like BPA may account for a staggering 90% of diabetes cases.
Hormones are crucial to many important bodily functions. They determine our development and behavior. A small change in hormone concentration—the equivalent of one drop of water in 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools—is enough to have an effect on the human endocrine system, which impacts growth, metabolism, sleep, and other important bodily functions. This means that even low exposures to BPA, PFAS (so-called “forever chemicals”), and other ubiquitous endocrine disruptors could have profound human health consequences.
Just how profound? The US is one of the unhealthiest nations in the world. Almost 43% of Americans over age 20 are obese, which is far, far higher than any other country with high rates of COVID infection: Japan’s adult obesity rate is only 3.7%, Korea’s is 5.3%, China’s is 7%, and Italy’s is 9.8% The US ranks 43rd out of 183 countries for death due to lung disease; leads developed nations in type 2 diabetes; has the third highest mortality rate for circulatory diseases like high blood pressure; and is second highest in mortality rate for heart attacks.
There are other factors that make us such a profoundly sick nation, such as the government subsidizing calorie-dense, nutrient poor junk foods. But our increased exposure to a wide array of dangerous chemicals in almost every aspect of our lives is almost certainly a key factor in our high rates of chronic illness, making us vulnerable to COVID-19.
There is another grave danger posed by endocrine disruptors unrelated to COVID-19: male infertility. One researcher bluntly stated, “Not everyone who wants to reproduce will be able to.” There’s a great deal of evidence that points to endocrine disruptors as a major cause of this problem. One study found an association between higher concentrations of phthalates (a chemical used in plastics) and increased damage to sperm DNA. Another study by Canadian scientists found that adding endocrine disruptors to Lake Ontario turned male fathead minnows into intersexual fish (fish with both male and female characteristics), which are unable to reproduce. Unfortunately, these are far from the only studies positing a link between chemicals and infertility.
The best way to deal with these toxins is to avoid them as best we can, but this can be challenging given that they can be found in unexpected places, such as dental offices (there is BPA in dental sealants) and checkout receipts. Other strategies for detoxification include increasing glutathione production, increasing dietary fiber, and toxin-specific interventions to prevent damage and facilitate detoxification. But avoidance is best; once in the body, these chemicals can be difficult to get rid of, as they store and accumulate in fat.
The toll these chemicals are taking on human health is far too high. There is some momentum on Capitol Hill to regulate PFAS chemicals in light of the EPA’s inaction, but due no doubt to chemical industry influence, the measure has been reported to have “no prospects” in the Senate. We must hammer our policy makers with messages demanding action on PFAS as well as other endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Action Alert! Write to the FDA, EPA, and Congress, telling them to ban PFAS and other endocrine disruptors. Please send your message immediately.