Hormonal contaminants are found in pesticides, plastics, cosmetics, hygiene products, and other everyday items. They are characterized by altering the normal functioning of our hormonal system, responsible, among many other functions, for regulating development. Therefore, it is especially important to reduce the exposure of pregnant women, children and adolescents to these substances, as they are the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
The exposure of the population to hormonal pollutants present in the environment is related to the increase of important damages to health and diseases, including reproductive health problems (eg, infertility, congenital malformations), tumors and other diseases in hormone-dependent organs (breast, prostate, testicle, thyroid), metabolic diseases (diabetes, obesity), immune diseases and alterations in the development of the neurological system, among others, according to a recent study by the World Health Organization.
Both municipalities and autonomous communities can and should implement measures to reduce the population's exposure to these pollutants. Five simple measures, low cost, but with a great impact on health, should be implemented by municipal and regional governments with the participation of social organizations:
1. Promote the use of clean products through contracts and public purchases
Spanish public administrations spent 165 billion euros on works, goods and services in 2011, being by far the main player in the market. Limiting the presence of hormonal pollutants and other substances of concern in public contracts and purchases will not only reduce the exposure of workers and users of public centers, including schools and health centers, but will also promote the presence of safer products on the market. , thus supporting companies that have made a commitment by offering cleaner and safer products.
2. Encourage the consumption of foods with a low presence of pollutants in day care centers, school canteens and hospitals.
Diet is one of the main routes of exposure to toxic substances. A varied diet that seeks to reduce the consumption of fatty fish and meat; favor organic food; avoid plastic containers; and heating and cooking food in glass or metal containers and utensils reduces exposure to hormonal contaminants. The municipal and regional administrations can implement these measures directly in all school canteens and health centers under their responsibility and promote the application of these measures in private centers.
3. Avoid the use of pesticides in public spaces
The fumigation of parks and gardens, the use of herbicides in public spaces, the fumigation of schools, health centers and other closed public spaces unnecessarily expose the population to hormonal contaminants. There are numerous pest control and weed control methods that do not use toxic chemicals. The implementation of these measures will also favor their use in private spaces.
4. Inform and train health workers, educators and journalists
Professionals in contact with families, youth, children and adolescents, such as family doctors, pediatricians, midwives and nurses, must be adequately informed of the health risks of exposure to hormonal contaminants and be trained to offer recommendations to reduce exposure to toxic substances, as they already do in other European countries. Also, journalists and communicators must be informed and trained to be able to offer truthful and contrasted information to the population.
5. Reduce car use on short trips
80% of the Spanish population breathes polluted air. Car travel in our cities is the main cause of this pollution. Both diesel fumes, and other pollutants present in car emissions, have the ability to alter the hormonal system. Information to the population on the effects of pollution on health, the main sources of air pollution and measures to reduce it, together with support for sustainable mobility will significantly reduce this problem.
Ecologists in Action