No, this is not some subtle allusion to the fact that only women should be cleaning — especially since I’m a woman! It’s about the fact that some household cleaners, personal care products, and laundry cleaners contain chemicals that stimulate estrogen production. Nonylphenol ethoxylates, or NPEs, is one such chemical, used as a surfactant in detergents as well as in other products around the home. NPE has been identified as the potential cause for male fish taking on female fish qualities and for increasing reproductive organ disorders and decreasing sperm counts in men.
According to the Northwest Coalition on Alternatives to Pesticides, it is hard to know in what quantity NPEs are used, since they are claimed as trade secrets when they are used as inerts. And because of the effects on wildlife and potential effects on humans, the Sierra Club is asking for a ban on NPEs. Though some companies, such as Procter &Gamble, phased out the use, it is still safer to stick to the natural alternatives. As a side note, Europe and Canada have already restricted NPEs use . We continue to be behind the curve on this stuff–I hope we take the lead someday!!