When the United Nations comes out with a report calling something a "global health threat," we should probably be more than a little concerned. And that's exactly what happened in early 2013 when the World Health Organization and the UN Environment Programme applied the term to a class of chemicals known as endocrine disruptors. The reason: A growing body of research is linking these potent chemicals, which interfere with the endocrine system that regulates your hormones, to global rates of chronic disease and infertility.
"Never has there been a time in history that the disease burden of the human population is predominantly chronic disease, not communicable or infectious disease," Thomas Zoeller, PhD, professor of biology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a coauthor of the report, told us at the time. "We can't prove that this is related to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, but we can't continue to deny their impact."
Now the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Keep a Breast Foundation are sounding alarm bells about the health threat of these chemicals. Of the roughly 80,000 chemicals used in everyday goods, 1,300 or so are considered endocrine disruptors, also called hormone disruptors. The nonprofits just released a report outlining the "Dirty Dozen," a list of endocrine disruptors that highlights the worst of the worst—and the ones you're most likely exposed to every day. Here's how to avoid them:
(For your ultimate guide to simple, eco-friendly choices for you and your home, check out