What are the hazards of Teflon and Scotchgard?

Throughout our kid’s lives, we try to protect them from harm. We eat organic, buckle their car seats, we block access to electrical outlets and we pad edges of hard furniture so they are not harmed by it.

But we have forgotten a significant and unseen concern- chemicals in their environment. And by environment I mean their clothing, bedding, our carpet, paint and our very furniture. Most specifically I am talking about the hazards of Teflon.

What are the hazards of Teflon and Scotchgard?

Much of the carpet and furniture that is on the market contains stain fighters. Who wouldn’t want a couch that repelled Johnny’s blueberry mess? In order to provide a surface to repel stains, manufacturers use Teflon, Scotchgard, or other similar materials to coat the fibers of the furniture, carpet and even clothing. The material forms a layer of protection that keeps your fabrics relatively stain free.

But what are the long term effects of this material?

When you put a stain fighter on a pair of pants, it is pretty useless if it doesn’t last through the lifetime of your usage. But consider that over time, this stain fighter is going to slowly wear off.. and where it goes, aside from the washer and dryer, is of course on your skin.

Since the skin is such a fantastic organ, it absorbs some chemicals readily. Teflon is one of them. When human blood and tissues are tested around the world, 98% of us have this material in us! Unborn children have had umbilical cords tested and the material even shows up there. (I don’t even know how they tested that.)

The chemicals are everywhere though. Not just in our fabrics. It is in cookware, microwave popcorn bags.. I won’t name everything, the list would be too long. Lawsuits are in process all over the place for health effects from kidney disease to high cholesterol in kids.

So what choices can we make to help lower our exposure to these materials?

 Here are 5 ways to reduce your exposure to Teflon:

  1. Buy clothing and fabric covered materials without stain fighters. It may be hard. It is also hard seeing your new sofa covered with blueberry sauce.. in our house we use a hand made washable quilt and place pee pads underneath- if something spills- we wash it and the couch is safe. It is also great to keep dog and cat hair off the couch.
  2. Purchase cook and bake ware that is not Teflon coated. I like the silver colored Calphalon cookware.
  3. Ditch the microwave popcorn- cook it in your regular cookware. It tastes better anyway, and you can add your own oils and seasonings.
  4. Replace carpets with a more organic based material- there are wool carpets and such available, but for our money- ceramic tile is the best value. It cleans easily, looks great and you can accessorize with any kind of rugs you like. Marble or other natural materials are great, but cost more and have fussier cleaning requirements (and we have it, so I know- toddlers and marble are a no.)
  5. Let manufacturers know that you don’t like their coatings. Let them know we don’t like the hazards of Teflon. Don’t buy their products, and let them know why. An email, tweet or Facebook post can let them know that you do not want to be exposed to these materials.

There are still going to be exposures out in the world. Not everyone can make the kind of changes above overnight. But every small step has an effect against the hazards of teflon, even if it is unseen.

So don’t give up. Little by little we can reduce the exposure!

Here are a few links I used to spur my research:

http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/24/16112404-critical-epa-report-highlighting-chemical-dangers-to-kids-is-sidetracked

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/teflon-warnings