The “Dirty Dozen”

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    BPA: The synthetic hormone was banned from baby bottles and sippy cups, but can still sometimes be found in the lining of food cans, on receipt paper and in polycarbonate plastics -- those labeled with recycling #7.

    Wikimedia Commons

    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Dioxins: These chemical compounds accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals. According to the World Health Organization, more than 90 percent of human exposure comes through food, and most animal products, from meat to dairy, are at risk of contamination.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Atrazine: The herbicide is used on the majority of America's corn crop; the EPA monitors drinking water for contamination from its run-off.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Phthalates: Also known as "plasticizers," these chemicals are used to make products like food containers and plastic wrap more flexible. They're sometimes an unlisted component of the "fragrance" in personal care products.

    USDA/Wikimedia Commons

    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Perchlorate: This rocket fuel component makes its way into milk and produce via its use in some fertilizers, and has been detected in American women's breast milk.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    PBDEs: Since these fire retardants were first found in breast milk in 1999, they've mostly been phased out from building materials, polyurethane foams and textiles -- the form used in foam furniture was taken off the market in 2005. Yet some reports indicate that their levels in the environment are increasing, either through the breakdown of older chemicals or their inclusion in imported products.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Lead: Aside from its myriad other toxic effects, the lead found in old paint and sometimes in drinking water has also been linked to lower sex hormone levels in animals and may disrupt the hormone signals that regulate the body's stress response system.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Arsenic: Another toxin found in drinking water throughout the U.S. that also messes with hormones, arsenic has been shown to interfere with the system that regulates how the body processes sugars and carbs.

    Malgorzata Kistryn/Shutterstock

    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Mercury: Released through burning coal to the air and oceans, and ultimately to seafood, the metal is most risky to pregnant women.

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    The "Dirty Dozen"

    PFCs: The worst of the perfluorinated chemicals used in nonstick cookware and on stain- and water-resistant fabrics -- PFOA -- is, according to the report, "completely resistant to biodegredation."

    USDA/Wikimedia Commons

    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Organophosphates: One of the most commonly used pesticides in fruit and vegetable production, it's been shown to interfere with and lower testosterone.

    Wikimedia Commons

    The "Dirty Dozen"

    Glycol ethers: 2-butoxyethanol (EGBE) and methoxydiglycol (DEGME) have been linked to a myriad of health problems in animal studies (and possibly to reduced sperm quality and testes size in exposed workers), but remain common solvents in paint, cleaning products, brake fluid and cosmetics.

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Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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