Protect Yourself & the Environment
When you're out and about there are steps that you can take to protect yourself from toxic exposures. Some of them are good for the environment, too!
There are just so many health reasons to avoid smoking and breathing in second-hand smoke. Beyond the obvious reasons we all know, cigarette smoke has high levels of cadmium and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), another source of estrogenic pollutants linked to increased risk for breast cancer.
Which other chemicals linked to breast cancer are found in waterways and air? Find out in our science section.Chemicals in air and water >
While too much exposure to direct sun can cause skin cancer, sunscreens often contain small amounts of chemicals that disrupt hormones. Stay out of the sun during peak hours, cover up, and when you do use sunblock, look for safer solutions. Avoid suncreens that contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, 3-(4-methylbenzylidene)-camphor (4-MBC), and octyl-dimethyl-PABA (OD-PABA).
These days it seems like everything claims to be "antibacterial"—soaps, toothpaste, clothing, bedding, socks, band-aids, toys, cutting boards—you name it. Chances are, these products contain triclosan, an antimicrobial agent that is suspected of interfering with the hormone systems of humans and wildlife. There's no evidence that triclosan is more effective than soap and water, so trade in the toxics for some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.
Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene or PERC for short, is a harmful chemical commonly used in dry cleaning. To avoid exposure, don't buy clothes that say "dry clean only." For the dry-clean-only clothes you already own, remember that they can oftentimes be hand-washed and air dried with little consequence. Cleaners may also offer "wet cleaning," a process that uses carefully selected water temperatures based on the fabric. If you do use a dry cleaner, take off the plastic and air the clothes out, preferably outdoors.
Medications that are flushed down the toilet can end up in drinking water. Water treatment facilities generally don’t remove hormones, antidepressants and other medications from waste water. Check to see if your pharmacy has a medication take-back program; if not, ask it to start one.
Cadmium has been linked to early-onset puberty, which is a risk factor for breast cancer. Store substances that contain cadmium safely away and keep nickel-cadmium batteries out of reach of young children. Do not put nickel-cadmium batteries in the trash, but rather look for special battery recycling or disposal centers in your community.
Car exhaust releases a carcinogen known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (known as PAHs). When purchasing a car (especially used) make sure the emissions system meets government standards, and that the catalytic converter and the computer system controlling emissions work properly. (And needless to say, the less exhaust you breathe, the better.)