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PFCs (Perfluorinated Compounds)

Q: Where Am I Exposed?

PFCs are broadly used in manufacturing, including protective coatings for carpets and other non-stick coatings, airplanes, computers, cosmetics, and household cleaners. Some well known PFC containing products include Teflon, Stainmaster, Scotchgard, and Gore-Tex.

For a comprehensive look at PFCs, including information on what you can do, visit the Environmental Working Group report of PFCs at the Environmental Working Group website.

Q: What Can I Do?

  • Phase out the use of Teflon and other non-stick cookware and other equipment that is heated in your home. If you can afford to replace it now, do so;
  • Avoid any kitchen equipment that contains Teflon or other non-stick components that are heated to high temperature during use;
  • When you purchase furniture or carpet, decline optional treatments for stain and dirt resistance, and find products that have not been pre-treated with chemicals by questioning the retailers. Most of these chemical treatments contain PFCs that might contaminate your home and family;
  • Avoid buying clothing that bears a Teflon label or other indication that it has been coated for water, stain, or dirt repellency. Many of these coatings are PFCs. By buying alternatives you will help shrink the PFC economy and the associated global contamination;
  • Minimize packaged food and greasy fast foods in your diet. These can be held in containers that are coated with PFCs to keep grease from soaking through the packaging. PFCs are used in a wide variety of containers, including french fry boxes, pizza boxes, and microwave popcorn bags;
  • Avoid buying cosmetics and other personal care products with the phrase "fluoro" or "perfluoro" on the ingredient list. Among products that might contain PFCs are lotions, pressed powders, nail polish, and shaving cream.

Adapted from the Practice Prevention Columns on the Collaborative on Health and the Environment website, and other sources as indicated.