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Endocrine disrupting chemical hazards at or in buildings: list common building materials and products that, at least in some versions, may contain levels of these chemicals. Here we list possible building sources of these hazards and we also call attention to the greater risk of some more mundane but also more immediate life/safety hazards found at buildings. We describe prudent avoidance as it could pertain to avoiding exposure to possible or likely sources of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in or around buildings.
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What is the Possible Endocrine Disruptive Chemical (EDC) Hazard & How Does it Occur in Buildings?
Concern for the effects on humans of trace levels of certain chemicals - exposure levels considerably below most exposure standards - is not new. For example, see Our Stolen Future, Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers - discussed at Reviewers.
As public awareness of the possible hazards of exposure to endocrine disruptors has increased,and in the interest of permitting reasonable efforts by building owners and occupants in seeking prudent avoidance of these substances, here we list common building materials and products that, at least in some versions, may contain levels of these chemicals.
Rudel & Petrovich writing in Atmospheric Environment pointed out that significant un-answered questions remain about endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) hazards:
Common Building Components & Products that May* be a Source of Endocrine Disruptors (EDCs) or similar hazards
In the article we just quoted above, and noting that PCBs (cited next) are not the only source of EDCs, Rudel & Petrovich listed these common potential sources of endocrine disruptors that may be found on or in buildings:
Caulks & Sealants
Foam padding or cushions, esp. containing a flame retardant chemical
Furniture & furnishings (textiles, especially flame retardant-treated)
Paints & Coatings
Particularly on older homes that may have been treated with pesticides that are no longer used, and particularly if pesticides were applied improperly (spraying chlordane on building walls, for example) may have left a long-lived chemical hazard. See PESTICIDE EXPOSURE HAZARDS.
Plastic products used in or found in buildings
Plastic Water Tanks
PET - Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE, PETP, PET-P) is a thermoplastic polymer polyester plastic resin. plastic water tanks may be a health risk to consumers: Commentary published in Environmental Health Perspectives in April 2010 suggested that PET might yield endocrine disruptors under conditions of common use and recommended research on this topic. Proposed mechanisms include leaching of phthalates as well as leaching of antimony. Other authors have published evidence indicating that it is quite unlikely that PET yields endocrine disruptors. - Web search 6/27/2010 Wikipedia. PET
To identify what kind of plastic was used to make your water or other storage tank or even your plastic water bottle or food container use the simple guide to plastic recycling codes and other plastic tank type identification suggestions at PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES and look for the recycling indicator or label on your plastic container.
Details about PET PETE PETP PET-P possible hazards: see WELL PUMP & WATER TANK SAFETY
* Not all products in these categories are shown or even believed to contain hormone mimicking chemicals or endocrine disruptors.
OPINION: In our view, prudent avoidance as used here means that although research on the actual hazard of endocrine disruptors is ongoing and although there may be few endocrine disruptor exposure standards, enough data has been presented to support reasonable, "non-heroic" efforts at avoiding exposure to these substances. In other words, while abandoning a home or tearing off all of its vinyl siding (VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO) to replace with another material are almost certainly inappropriate and un-justified steps, other more cost-reasonable steps to avoid these materials would be appropriate.
Prudent avoidance means that we avoid un-justified costs or heroic actions that are driven more by fear than by sound data. But it can be difficult to sort out which hazards we read about are based on sound science and which are less rationally derived, or perhaps even exaggerated by some who provide services that benefit from a frightened consumer. At ENVIRO-SCARE - PUBLIC FEAR CYCLES we explain that regardless of the actual hazard level involved, public fear goes through cycles of awareness, concern, and then diminished concern as the hazard becomes familiar.
Examples of prudent avoidance might be seen in
Watch out: generally we are more anxious about potential hazards that we cannot see or for which we cannot control our exposure than we are about more mundane hazards such as automobile crashes, failure to buckle a seatbelt, or unsafe steps and rails and stair-fall injuries. But in fact far more people are seriously injured or killed each day by those more mundane dangers.
Don't allow fear of EDCs (endocrine disrupting chemicals) exposure at your home or other building cause a failure to attend to more immediate and lethal hazards such as unsafe heating equipment or dangerous stairs and railings. At SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE we provide an extensive list of common building safety & health hazards found in or at buildings such as
At "More Reading" below and at Related Topics at the top of this article we list InspectApedia articles that list building materials & products that may contain endocrine disruptor chemicals.
At References found at the end of this article we include citations of authoritative sources discussing the hazards of hormone mimicking chemicals, endocrine disruptors, industry sources of these substances, and the development of pertinent exposure standards.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.