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One third of Swiss people affected by a cocktail of endocrine disruptors

The laboratory toxSeek searched for endocrine disruptors in more than 600 hair samples submitted by our readers. In 207 cases, at least seven problematic substances were found. Most often pesticides.

Last May, Bon à Savoir and its German-speaking partner K-Tipp embarked on an unprecedented experiment in Switzerland: analysing the hair of 20 people across the country. The aim of the approach: to make people aware of the omnipresence of toxic substances around us. The results revealed that all our guinea pigs, from a very young age, are contaminated by a cocktail of more or less toxic pollutants.

The article generated a great response among readers. More than 600 of you also wanted to know about the problematic substances to which you are exposed. Thanks to you, we have been able to broaden the horizon of our approach and get a more global picture of the problem.

femme inquiète observant ses cheveux
Credits: Freepik

Pesticides at the head

The French laboratory toxSeek carried out a total of 1255 analyses in the framework of the action proposed to the readers. For data protection reasons, only global results have been transmitted to us. And 616 analyses were carried out on organic pollutants that can be harmful to the hormone system, i.e. endocrine disruptors.
These include numerous pesticides, plasticisers such as bisphenol A, cosmetic components and flame retardants for furniture and textiles.

Result : More than a third of the samples are contaminated with at least seven endocrine disruptors. toxSeek further emphasises that pesticide residues were found most often.

The health risk is not immediate, but chronic. This means that it is the long-term exposure to these substances that can be dangerous. One of the most common effects is endocrine disruption, i.e. the deleterious action of chemical molecules on our hormonal system. This can lead to the onset of diseases such as cancer or impair certain body functions, such as reproduction or foetal development.
In addition, current scientific research, including that carried out in 2018 at the German University of Münster, concludes that the effects of different endocrine disrupters can be mutually reinforcing. This is known as the "cocktail effect". Among those analysed are 40 children under 12 years of age. The over 50s are the largest group represented with 322 people. The 20-50 year olds number 188.

Pollutants in smartphones

The remaining 639 analyses concerned metal residues. This category includes dangerous heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, as well as twelve rare earths such as ytterbium, neodymium, samarium or holmium. According to the laboratory, long-term exposure to this type of metal can damage the nervous system, cause skin reactions such as tingling, fatigue, dizziness and concentration disorders.

Disturbing result: Twenty-two samples contained a particularly high number of rare earths. These metals are present in our high-tech devices, from mobile phones to flat screens, headphones and electric vehicles. With the increasingly widespread use of these high-tech tools, it is to be expected that the spread of rare earths will increase further in the future.