Dateline   |  March 25, 2013

Hormone Disruptors, Part 1

NBC News' Andrea Canning reports on 'hormone disruptors', chemicals potentially found in everyday objects that can affect our health.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> them on packaged food, cosmetics, soap, even tooth paste. what do we know about them? andrea cannon decided to have herself and her kids tested for some of those chemicals. the result? something she didn't expect.

>> these things probably look familiar. a busy mother of three trying to manage dinner.

>> chocolate.

>> yeah, yummy chocolate.

>> play time. baths and even beauty. through it all, we're using plastics, soap, make-up, everyday things which contain chemicals. with thousands of chemicals around us, how much do we really know about how any of them affect us? so i agreed to have myself and my little girls tested for three chemicals that are part of a group called hormone disrupters. the fda and other agencies say the chemicals are safe at low levels. not everyone agrees.

>> are they dangerous?

>> i think that the scientific data that we have, particularly on low level , suggests very strongly that you can, during development, have a higher propensity for getting things like breast cancer or prostate cancer .

>> emily wristman, a widely published professor of biochemistry at the university of virginia , says researchers found an association between some hormone disrupters and a range of potential problems including childhood obesity, autism and infertility.

>> what are hormone disrupters?

>> they're kind of like masquerade masqueraders?

>> hormones attached themselves much like a key fits in a lot. they regulate things like growth, fertility and brain development . when hormone disrupters mimic them, they can upset normal hormone activity, particularly in fetuses, young children and teens. dr. wristman has studied how one hormone disrupter affects sight.

>> we see this over and over again in rats and mice. and i'm talking about things like adhd.

>> the disrupters are seen only at levels far higher than what a person would normally encounter.

>> that's their prerogative. i'm just importing the data. it's in peer review journals. i can replicate it. and those are the criteria for scientists.

>> according to the center for disease control , 90% have disrupters in their bodies.

>> it's to the point where the chemicals have been found in umbilical cords . babies are literally being born pre-polluted these days.

>> they have written a book about hormone disrupters call "slow death by rubber ducks ."

>> we're going to open your cab net and take a look at a few things.

>> it's hard to see it, but he's referring to the recycling symbol on the bottom of the cup. sw.

>> there's a good chance of it being a seven.

>> so i'd avoid this cup.

>> but he also argues that several are argued ed bpa -free.

>> not everyone knows that it's in the lining of many tin cans , like this can of diced tomatoes .

>> what happens, of course, is, especially with an acidic product product, like tomatoes, it draws it out of the plastic lining into the prublgt.

>> next stop, the bathroom. he says some of these products contain another hormone disrupter called fallie. there's no way to know for sure since manufacturers are not required to label them.

>> they could also be in my family's soft plastic toys. smith says toys made before 2008 often contain them.

>> really, the problem would be toy patterns when kids put them in their mouth.

>> do we need to be extra cautious about our kids?

>> yeah, definitely. their bodies are developing, their brains are just developing.

>> we tell our kids to wash their hands free kwently. but our favorite hand soap was something they were especially concerned about.

>> as soon as you see antibacterial, that's you're clue to turn it over and look at the label.

>> unlike some hormone disrupters, it's required to be clearly labeled. that's because it's a registered, antimicrobial pesticide. previously used to kill viruss. we found viruss throughout my home. so they designed a test using scientific protocol with me as the gunieu pig to show you how to help control the level of hormone disrupters in your system.

>> we want to show people how direct the relationship is.

>> what were my levels? we ghan with a baseline test and learned that i did, in fact, have bpa , fallates and triclofan in my body. the next step? to try and eliminate hormone numbers and get to as close to zero as possible. i changed my make-up, soaps to avoiding bpa , ate fresh food, nothing from a can.

>> what happened to me?

>> my levels fell way down. could we bring them up, too?

we would find out: i used make-up that may have been made with fallates. breakfast was microwaved in a hard, clear, plastic cup . for lunch, soup from a can and a diet coke .

>> and all of these cans are lined with bpa . and for dinner, yes, break out the can opener again. canned string beans and another diet soda . i also washed my hands with dial and another antibacterial hand wash. day three, back to avoiding the chemicals in question and then we sent our samples off to the lab. we did a test on my three little girls to find out what hormone disrupters they had in their body. two months later, my results come back and so did my daughters.

>> coming up, what andrea learned from the test.

>> i have to say, i didn't know if it would be such a dramatic finding.

>> i don't think it's developed to scare people, but i think it's a consequence.

>> when "dateline" continues. [ male