Monday, June 16, 2008

Is There a True Need for the Perfluorochemicals?

Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are chemicals found in nonstick pots and pans, stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, stain-resistant paints, flame-resistant clothing, as a part of firefighting foam, wire coating, fast-food cartons/containers and wrappers. They are created to resist heat, water, oil, grease and stains. Studies have shown that 98% of Americans have one form or more of these chemicals in their body. People are exposed through food, water, cosmetic products that contain these chemicals and through environment. These chemicals stay in the body for decades; with time higher levels can be found in the body through the small repeated doses that accumulate over time.

PFCs were found to produce serious health effects including cancer, kidney damage, and liver damage, decreased ability to fight infection, birth defects, reproductive problems and the list can continue for more. EWG recently released a very comprehensive report about these chemicals, their effects and about industry thoughts on the issue.

What to do to avoid/minimize the exposure:
  1. Minimize the use use non-stick cookware if you cannot avoid it completely; I am trying to use mostly my cast iron and stainless steel pots and pens. I know, the advantage of the non-stick was that I could use less oil for most meals, but choosing some healthy oils and cooking on a low heat will eliminate that problem easily. Frankly, I found the food more tasty.
  2. Choose clothing that is not labeled stain- or water-repellent (does not carry Teflon or Scotchgard tags).
  3. Avoid the cosmetics having “fluoro” or “perfluoro” in their ingredients. Most common are nail polish, shaving creams, lotions, some powders, and makeup.
  4. Avoid packaged food and fast food containers (e.g., pizza boxes, microwave pop corn, etc). Not all soil resistant treatments are fluoro-based though.
  5. Avoid furniture or carpet that used stain and dirt resistance treatment. If you already have furniture that is treated try to find a cover for it. Not all stain or soil resistant treatments are fluoro-based, read the labels.

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