Perfluorinated chemicals, also known as PFCs, are used in so many everyday household items it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure. They’re in food packaging, pesticides, and personal care products as well as carpets, clothing, and upholstery. Non-stick cookware emits PFCs into the air every time it is heated. Water-resistant fabrics are coated with PFCs to repel water.
This compound comes in two forms:
- PFOA - perfluorooctanoate
- PFOS - perfluoroctane sulfonate
Each form brings unique health risks and industrial benefits but both forms remain in the environment and the body for decades after exposure.
Very little scientific research has been done to explore any possible connection between PFC exposure and reproductive health. One of the most noteworthy studies, published in 2009, does identify a possible link between exposure and women’s infertility.
Of the group of 1,240 women under study, the higher the woman’s level of PFCs in the bloodstream, the longer it took her to become pregnant. Depending on the level of exposure in an individual woman, delayed pregnancies increased by 60 percent to 154 percent.
An additional finding of the study was that women with the highest levels of exposure were also more likely to report menstrual irregularities, suggesting a hormone-related link to PFC exposure.
Since a shared lifestyle makes men and women almost equally exposed to PFCs in the home environment, further study on the effects of exposure on male reproductive health is desired.
Animal studies link PFC exposure to toxicity in the liver as well as impaired immunity and risks to organs vital to development and reproduction.
In the few studies of PFC exposure in human babies, impaired fetal growth was a consistent finding among them all.
To Minimize Exposure
- Use well-seasoned cast iron cookware for stick-free cooking.
- Avoid use of water-repellant sprays and coatings on fabrics in the home and wardrobe.