Use nonstick and stain-resistant products with care
Scotchgard and Teflon are brand names for perfluroooctanoic acid, which is used to protect clothes, carpets and furniture from stains and water; to cook food without sticking; and to prevent grease from leaking out of microwave food containers. This acid (also called PFOA) is associated with birth and developmental defects, brain and nervous system disorders, immune system problems, and cancer. While nonstick pans with no scratches are likely safe for use, says Dr. Sarah Janssen, staff scientist in the health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council who advocates for better testing and control of toxic substances, recommends ditching pans with scratches, since the PFOA can seep into food. If you must waterproof your shoes or boots, treat them outdoors and wait for them to dry before bringing them indoors. And consider declining the stain treatment for your new couch: "The biggest source of exposure comes from applying stain- or water-resistant chemicals to furniture," says Janssen. Stainproof couches and chairs are especially problematic, since you essentially press your body into a piece of chemically saturated furniture.