What We Know about Endocrine Disruptors and Men’s Health

“In recent years, a lot of companies have stopped using BPA, labeling their products ‘BPA-free.’ But in many cases, they may be replacing BPA with bisphenol F and bisphenol S, which are both very similar to BPA.”

Exposure to phthalates has shifted in the past ten or twenty years. Nowadays, diet is a big source of exposure for high-molecular-weight phthalates from plastic food packaging and food handling equipment that contains phthalates. Phthalates used to be found primarily in consumer products, such as building materials, flexible PVC, and even children’s toys. We’ve since learned that some of these phthalates, such as diethylhexyl phthalate, are reproductive toxicants. So now, DEHP and a few other phthalates are starting to be removed from these products and are banned in children’s products. What’s concerning is that companies are replacing those phthalates with other phthalates or new replacement chemicals that have similar properties but are less studied from a toxicological perspective. We don’t know yet if these new chemicals will have similar health effects as the phthalates that have been more thoroughly studied.

Parabens are often used in personal-care products as antimicrobials. Parabens are classified as pesticides in the United States, so they have to be disclosed on the label of any product they’re in, whereas phthalates do not. People can be exposed by using lotions or fragrances that have these ingredients in them.

Then there’s occupational exposure, which often combines large magnitudes of exposure to these chemicals over long periods of time. Any job that deals with pesticide applications—such as agricultural workers, exterminators, or greenhouse workers—will have large exposures. Industrially, there are manufacturing jobs that use a lot of these chemicals in large volumes, which could put workers at risk if adequate exposure control measures are not in place.