The butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the back of your neck has more importance in your life than you can imagine. Thyroid issues are on a steady rise over the past three decades, affecting millions of people around the world. More and more research is highlighting the connection between thyroid diseases and the various toxins and chemicals that we encounter everyday.

Whether they are synthetic or natural, chemicals and toxins are a difficult piece of the thyroid puzzle. Here is a list of the nine most common thyroid offenders sneaking through your door.

1. Percholates
A byproduct of manufacturing rocket and jet fuel and fireworks and fertilizers, this chemical finds its way in our bodies by sneaking through our water supplies. It actively replaces iodine in the thyroid and causes reduced thyroid activity. It also prevents the production of thyroid hormones.
Avoid: Drinking unfiltered water.

2. Dioxin
These long-lived chemicals can accumulate in animal fatty tissue and slowly poison us. Dioxins are known to have disruptive effects on the endocrine system, particularly the thyroid. Apart from thyroid abnormalities this chemical has been linked with reduced fertility, low sperm count, heart diseases and diabetes.
Avoid: Unprocessed meat and contact with industrial oils.

3. Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is used in food cans, plastic bottles, cell phone protectors and dental sealants. BPA have been linked with reproductive problems, obesity and early puberty, along with thyroid problems.
Avoid: Storing water in plastic bottles for a long time, avoid canned foods.

4. Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs)
Commonly used to make your non-stick cookware, these chemicals can easily escape into your food. Studies have associated these chemicals with thyroid diseases, low birth weight in babies, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Avoid: Using Teflon-coated nonstick cooking vessels.

Added to plastic to aid durability and flexibility, phthalates can easily leech into water and put you at the risk of chronic exposure. They can also be found in detergents, nail colors, deodorants, shampoos and hair gels and lotions. Along with adverse effects on the thyroid gland, it also hampers the reproductive system.
Avoid: Nail paint and exposure to harsh detergents.

6. Pesticides
These bug killing chemicals increase the risk of thyroid abnormalities in women whose husbands used it for agricultural practices. Fungicides and herbicides used on produce has also be seen to decrease thyroid function.
Avoid: Eating genetically modified foods or foods sprayed with pesticides; choose organic foods, instead.

7. Heavy Metals
Mercury, aluminum and lead finds its way in our food chain through industrial sewage dumped into our natural water resources. These chemicals can trigger autoimmune thyroid conditions like Grave’s and Hashimoto’s disease.
Avoid: Drinking unfiltered water; contact with lead-based paint, lead-acid batteries and  lead-based candle wicks.

8. Glycol Ether
This liquid chemical finds its use as a solvent for paint and perfumes and as a component of cleaning products and cosmetics. They can enter the body through the skin and cause thyroid abnormalities. Overexposure has been linked to anemia and liver and kidney damages.
Avoid: Using strong perfumes, paints and cleaning products.

9. Flame Retardants
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) can disrupt the function of the thyroid gland by inhibiting the uptake of iodine. They can also mimic the function of thyroid hormones, thus inhibiting their production and release. PBDEs which are found in television and computer screens, carpets and furniture foam have also been linked with a lower IQ.
Avoid: Buying furniture that carries a TB 117 label. Verify with the store that the product does not contain flame retardants. Look for the TB 117-2013 label.

While it is difficult to completely eradicate these chemicals from our lives, knowing the various chemicals that hamper the endocrine system can help us make better decisions while choosing the products that contain them.

Read More:
5 Toxins That Reside In Your Kitchen
Green Living QA: Do Plastic Water Bottles Release Toxins?
How To Get Rid Of Toxins from Your Body
5 Ways To Reduce Exposure To Toxic Chemicals At Home