Public health advocates, environmentalists and laundry workers have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ban "gender-bender" chemical additives found in some household detergents and other cleaning agents.

They're also calling for studies on the human risks related to nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which are known to be potent endocrine disrupters. These chemicals are already thought to be the cause of male fish transforming into females in waterways around the world.

Some believe these transformed fish may be the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, pointing toward a much larger human problem. About 250,000 fewer boys have been born in the last 30 years in the United States and Japan, and scientists are linking the phenomenon to a body accumulation of these types of gender-bending toxins.

As endocrine disrupters, NPEs affect gene expression by turning on or off certain genes, and interfere with the way your glandular system works. They mimic the female hormone estrogen, which is the reason behind some marine species switching from male to female.

Approximately 400 million pounds of NPEs are manufactured in the United States each year.

Organic Consumers Association June 6, 2007

Natural Health - A Much Better Way July 21, 2007

Dr. Mercola's comment

Many of the most common household products contain potentially toxic chemicals. Although most people don't reflect on this, you can easily absorb most of these chemicals through your skin, and you can also breathe them into your lungs. Over time, these toxins can build up in your system and cause any number of unknown effects.

Aside from detergents and cleaning agents, endocrine-disrupting chemicals can also be found in plastics, pesticides, fertilizers and even soy.

Fortunately, you can take control of your household environment, and simply avoid using toxic chemicals in your home. Instead, please seek out natural laundry detergents and cleaning products. Your local health food store is a good place to start.

But, if you're thrifty to boot, you can also use items you already have around your house, such as: vinegar, baking soda, salt, and lemon juice, which in most cases get the job done just as well -- sometimes even better.

Baking soda is a real powerhouse when it comes to cleaning. Here are just a few examples of how plain and simple baking soda can replace dangerous commercial cleaning products in your home:
Use as a safe non-scratch scrub for metals and porcelain.

To clean your oven, simply sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.

To unclog a drain, pour 1/2 - 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 - 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it's working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.

Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.

To clean your silver, boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.
More common sense tips you can use today to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals include:
* Storing your food and water in glass (not plastic) containers whenever practical and possible.
* Eating as many organic foods as you can.
* Avoiding processed foods.