In the latest study, published in the journal Epidemology, scientists found that more than 10 percent of people exposed to drinking water contaminated with perfluoroctanoic acid (or PFOA, made by DOW Chemical) reported having some sort of thyroid problem. Comparing blood levels and years of exposure with incidence of thyroid problems, the researchers were able to say that higher PFOA exposure was associated with thyroid problems.
The study looked at more than 30,000 people to come to this conclusion.
PFOA is part of a group of problematic nonstick chemicals that fall into the perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) class, a family of fluoride-containing chemicals with unique properties that make things stick- and stain-resistant. The problem is, these compounds don't break down easily and can readily be found inside of our bodies. Along with thyroid disease, different PFCs have also been linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, and weaker immune systems.
Here's where they could be hiding out in your home:
Nonstick Hideout: Dental Floss
Some companies add nonstick chemicals to floss to make it glide more easily between your teeth.
Avoid it: Don't give up flossing—it's important. Instead, choose a natural type, like those from Radius.
Nonstick Hideout: Pots & Pans
Sure, it's great to not have to scrub pots and pans after cooking. But all of those scratches and chips in your nonstick cookware mean you're probably eating nonstick chemicals along with your meal.
Avoid it: Replace any nicked-up nonstick cookware with American-made cast-iron, enamel, glass, or stainless steel pots and pans.
Nonstick Hideout: Your Raincoat
Nonstick chemicals are really good at repelling water, hence their use in rain gear such as boots, umbrellas, and raincoats.
Avoid it: For safer outerwear, look for jackets treated with polyurethane, not nonstick chemicals. Wax-coated clothing and boots made from real rubber are increasingly popular safer options.
Nonstick Hideout: Pizza Boxes & Fast-Food Containers
Need another reason to avoid takeout? Here you go! Many food containers are coated with nonstick chemicals to keep grease from leaching through. (You can thank us when you drop those first five pounds!)
Avoid it: Cut back on fast food and cook from scratch more at home.
Nonstick Hideout: Microwavable Popcorn Bags
Popcorn companies don't want the grease bleeding through bags and onto your pants! So most coat the inside of bags with grease-repellent nonstick chemicals to keep that oily mix inside of the bag.
Avoid it: Make your own microwave popcorn using this trick, or choose Quinn Popcorn—the brand doesn't use nasty chemicals in its bags or ingredients.
Nonstick Hideout: Furniture & Carpeting
Nonstick chemicals hide under names like Scotchguard, Teflon, Stainmaster, and others. Many nonstick chemicals are used as treatments to repel anything you might spill on upholstered couches. Sounds handy, until you realize the stuff could make you sick.
Avoid it: When shopping for furniture, ask to make sure it's not coated with a nonstick treatment that repels stains. If you're in the market for new flooring, avoid carpeting and opt for untreated hardwood, then finish yourself with a safer product like Vermont Natural Coatings.
Nonstick Hideout: Paper Plates
An astounding 64 billions paper cups and plates are tossed away each year. Aside from the waste factor, many are also coated with nonstick chemicals to prevent leakage.
Avoid it: Just use regular glasses and plates instead, and wash them in the dishwasher when you're done to save water.
Nonstick Hideout: Your Shampoo
Nonstick chemicals could even hide out in personal care products! Luckily, unlike clothing and furniture, personal care products must have an ingredients list.
Avoid it: Check ingredient labels for anything beginning with perfluoro—and avoid it!
Nonstick Hideout: Household Dust
No matter how hard we try to avoid nonstick chemicals, they'll probably still wind up in our dust because they're used in so many different products. Household dust also harbors nasty plastic chemicals, BPA, and flame retardants.
Avoid it: Equip yourself with a vacuum with a HEPA filter and use it regularly!