Live Greener: Are Substances in Household Items Affecting Your Thyroid?
Our environments often affect our health. Our homes are our most personal environment. Here are some ways items in your home may be affecting your thyroid.
A recent study, published in Epidemology, found that more than 10 percent of people exposed to drinking water contaminated with perfluoroctanoic acid (or PFOA) also had some sort of thyroid problem. By comparing blood levels and number of years of exposure of 30,000 people with frequency of thyroid problems, the researchers concluded that higher PFOA exposure did correlate with increased thyroid problems.
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. These compounds don’t break down easily and can readily be found inside of our bodies. PFCs have also been linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, and weaker immune systems.
Other places PFOA could be lurking in your home include:
• Dental Floss: The waxed or easy-glide types especially. Better to choose a natural type, like Radius makes.
• Pots & Pans: When nonstick cookware gets scratched and cracked, PFOA chemicals are probably getting into your food. Better to use American-made cast-iron, enamel, glass, or stainless-steel pots and pans.
• Your Raincoat: Nonstick chemicals repel water, and so they are used in rain gear such as boots, umbrellas, and raincoats. Better to look for rain gear treated with polyurethane, and wax-coated clothing and boots made from real rubber.
• Pizza Boxes & Fast-Food Containers: Many food containers are coated with nonstick chemicals to keep grease from soaking through. Better to cut back on fast food and cook from scratch more at home.
• Microwavable Popcorn Bags: To prevent the grease from bleeding through bags, most popcorn manufacturers coat the inside of bags with grease-repellent nonstick chemicals. Better to use an air popper or choose Quinn Popcorn—the brand doesn’t use nasty chemicals in its bags or ingredients.
• Furniture & Carpeting: Many nonstick chemicals are used as treatments to repel anything you might spill on upholstered couches or floors. Better when shopping for furniture or flooring to ask questions about what chemicals they might be treated with and/or look for safer methods of stain protection.
• Paper Plates: Besides the waste from using paper plates, many are also coated with nonstick chemicals to prevent leakage. Better to use real dishes that can be washed and used again.
• Shampoo: Personal care products must have an ingredients list. Check ingredient labels for anything beginning with perfluoro—and avoid it!
• 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. Better to get an effective vacuum with a HEPA filter and keep your home dusted and vacuumed.