Breaking the Mold

Breaking the Mold
Breaking the Mold


Use natural products for your cleaning.

The Toxics Use Reduction Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell offers a dozen simple home cleaning recipes.

During in-depth interviews of more than 1,500 women, just over half of whom had been diagnosed with breast cancer, Silent Spring Institute researchers asked about product use, beliefs about breast cancer causes, and established and suspected risk factors.

Results showed that women with breast cancer were more likely than the controls to have used mold and mildew control products. Some common ingredients of these products have been identified as endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs)—compounds that mimic hormones or otherwise disrupt hormone regulation—or carcinogens, supporting the biological plausibility of the elevated odds ratios the scientists observed. Mold and mildew products often contain antimicrobials, phthalates, and alkylphenolic surfactants.

The scientists caution that although exposure levels may be low and EDCs are typically less potent than endogenous hormones, limited knowledge of product formulations, exposure levels, and the biological activity and toxicity of chemical constituents alone and in combination make it difficult to assess risks associated with product use. The scientists also acknowledged the possibility that the mold and mildew products could be proxies for exposure to mycotoxins, a toxic secondary metabolite produced by mold. Some mycotoxins are EDCs.


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