Is Your Environment Harming Your Thyroid?
Acella Pharmaceuticals, LLC., is partnering with Heather Procknal, NBC-HWC-CHC, to bring greater awareness to the importance of thyroid care and education. This post was sponsored by Acella Pharmaceuticals and should not be construed as medical advice. Please talk to your doctor about your individual medical situation.
How Toxins Affect Your Thyroid & What To Do About It
It’s probably no surprise that you are exposed to numerous chemicals and toxins on a daily basis. Invisible toxins are lurking everywhere; in your home from the bedrooms to the kitchen, in the water you drink, the food you eat, and the air you breathe. Aside from removing yourself from modern society or opting to live in a bubble, complete avoidance of toxins is nearly impossible.
What are the impacts of toxin exposure?
While there are currently limited studies that prove low-dose exposure causes adverse human health concerns, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences tends to disagree by reporting that “…there is a large body of research in experimental animal and wildlife suggesting that endocrine disruptors may cause numerous health issues including, increases in mammary, ovarian and prostate cancers as well as increases in immune and autoimmune diseases and some neurodegenerative diseases.”1
These negative health impacts are making the public take notice as more and more mainstream consumers are looking for safer healthier options to everyday items.
Where are these toxins (i.e. endocrine disruptors) hiding?
Cleaning supplies, soaps and detergents – Triclosan, DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine), TEA (triethanolamine), formaldehyde, ammonia
Non-stick cookware - PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)
Plasticware, plastic baggies and plastic wrap – BPA, PVA, phthalates
Food - Pesticides, germicides, preservatives
Water – Fluoride and chlorine (two of the main culprits)
A 2018 study found that fluoride impacts human thyroid hormones, especially TSH and T3, even in the standard concentration of less than 0.5 mg/L.2
The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health reports that up to one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are potentially toxic.
Because chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren't required to list their ingredients but merely label them as containing "fragrance." You’ll likely find “fragrance” listed in most of the items listed below.
Tub, shower and toilet cleaners – DEA and TEA, ammonia, sodium hypochlorite (bleach), fragrance
Shampoo and conditioner - Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), fragrance
Body wash – SLS, SLES, fragrance
Facial cleanser – Parabens, SLS, SLES, fragrance
Hair spray - Fragrance
Makeup – Parabens, BHA, BHT, phthalates, fragrance
Perfume and cologne - Fragrance
Feminine hygiene products – Bleach and fragrance
Toothpaste – Triclosan and fluoride
Furniture – VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Mattresses - Flame retardants, formaldehyde, benzene
Sheets and blankets - Formaldehyde
Clothing – Especially dry-cleaned garments exposed to chemical solvents perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene, PCE or perc.
AIR & FLOOR
Air fresheners – Aerosol sprays, candles, wax diffusers and wall plug-ins - Fragrance
Carpet and floor cleaners - Fragrance
Window cleaner – Chlorine, ammonia, fragrance
Carpets – Off-gassing of 4-PC, benzene and toluene
Vinyl and synthetic flooring – VOCs, brominated flame retardants
Hardwood adhesives – VOCs
Wall paint - VOCs
This is not an all-inclusive list, but you get the point. It’s A LOT! With that said, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are some simple and actionable steps you can take to reduce the burden on your body’s endocrine system and support your thyroid health.
Action Tip 1 – Take your shoes off at the door
Does this statement conjure memories of your mother saying this when you were a kid?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that lawn pesticides tracked indoors can exist in carpets and flooring for years. Further studies suggest that 80 percent of most people's exposure to pesticides occurs indoors and that measurable levels of up to a dozen pesticides have been found in the air inside homes.3 By simply taking your shoes off at the front door, you can decrease your family’s and pet’s exposure to harmful toxins.
Action Tip 2 – Open the windows and get a few HEPA air filters
Some experts suggest that inside air can be significantly more polluted than outside air due to the off-gassing of chemicals from materials like carpets, vinyl flooring, mattresses and furniture.
Allow those chemicals to escape by cracking open your windows and turning on a fan when the weather permits. Consider investing in a good quality HEPA air filter to keep in the room or rooms you spend the most time in.
Action Tip 3 – Read your ingredient labels
Your skin is your largest organ. Be mindful of what you put ON your body since it will end up IN your body. The next time you pick up your facial cleanser, shampoo, deodorant, body wash or other personal care items, look at what’s on the ingredient label.
Does it list any of the following?
BHA and BHT. Synthetic antioxidants used to extend shelf life. They are likely carcinogens and hormone disruptors and have been linked to liver damage.4 Found in lipstick, moisturizers, diaper cream and other cosmetics.
Oxybenzone. Sunscreen agent and ultraviolet light absorber linked to irritation, sensitization and allergies, and possible hormone disruption. Found in sunscreen and moisturizer.
Parabens (methyl-, isobutyl-, propyl- and others). A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine disruptors and may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies, including thyroid function. Found in shampoo, conditioner, facial cleanser, body wash, body lotion and makeup.
Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds). Widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens. Found in creams, sunscreen and shampoo.
Phthalates (DBP, DEHP, DEP and others). A class of plasticizing chemicals used to make products more pliable or to make fragrances stick to skin. Many researchers believe that phthalates disrupt the endocrine system. Found in synthetic fragrance, nail polish, hairspray and plastic materials.
Triclosan and triclocarban. Antimicrobial pesticides toxic to the aquatic environment; may also impact human reproductive systems. Found in liquid soap, bar soap, and toothpaste
Check your personal care ingredients using the Environmental Working Group (EWG) standards of safety to see how they stack up: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep. EWG offers some safer alternatives and updates its list of products frequently.
Action Tip 4 – Make your own multi-purpose cleaners
REFRESHING GLASS CLEANER
3 cups filtered water
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol or vodka (use the cheap stuff)
1/4 cup vinegar
20 drops peppermint or spearmint essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a glass quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine, then spray on mirrors, windows or stainless steel. Wipe off with lint-free towels or old newspaper for a streak-free shine. Feel free to swap out the essential oils to suit your preference. Be careful with using any acidic oils on marble, as some oils will erode the surface.
LEMONY ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups filtered water
1 teaspoon natural dish soap - (NOT castile soap, since it will curdle when mixed with vinegar)
30 drops lemon essential oil
20 drops tea tree or Melaleuca essential oil
Mix all ingredients in a glass quart-sized spray bottle. Shake to combine. Spray and wipe on counters, cabinets, sinks, toilets and anywhere else. This stuff smells SO good too!
CITRUS SOFT SCRUB
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops lime essential oil
10 drops orange essential oil
Mix ingredients together to form a paste (add more castile soap if needed). Apply with rag or sponge, then rinse with clean water. This works especially well on stovetops and grimy sinks.
Best Essential Oils for Cleaning
Not feeling like making a DIY cleaner?
Find a list of EWG’s top green cleaning products here: https://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/top_products
When purchasing new products or cleaning supplies, be sure to read the labels. Don’t rely solely on the words “clean,” “green” or “natural,” as they are not regulated terms and can be misleading when manufacturers use these words to describe toxic products. To ease into making changes around your home, take the detoxifying process one product at a time and make gradual changes that fit with your lifestyle. Otherwise, you may feel overwhelmed and as if you must swap out all of your home and personal care items at once. I hope this leaves you feeling empowered and ready to make a few changes to help detox your home and heal your body.