There's a lot of hazardous chemicals in our day-to-day environments as well.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, is a class of thousands of man-made substances that are common in everyday objects, but research is showing that they may be harmful to human health. They have been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer, decreased fertility, and developmental delays.

Since they last for decades without breaking down, that's bad news. They have been found in drinking water and household dust all over the world.

In a paper published last month, researchers at the University of Stockholm concluded that all of the planet's rain and soil is contaminated with unsafe levels of a toxic chemical. Ian thinks it is impossible to avoid the chemicals.

"It's almost impossible, I don't bother," he said. It's not possible to do it.

There are a few ways to reduce exposure even if you can't completely avoid it.

Eat at home, with minimal grease-resistant packaging

two adults one child eat dinner at a table with paper plates and bouquet of flowers
A family eats dinner at their home in Calumet Park, Illinois, on December 8, 2020.
Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

The 1940s saw the development of PFAS to resist heat, grease, and stains. They end up in a lot of food packaging. Pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, and grease- resistant paper are included.

Such packaging may be used more by restaurants and fast food chains. People who ate fast food had higher levels in their blood than people who ate at home.

Throw out scratched nonstick pans

red onion slices cooking in a black pan
Red onion slices cooking in a black pan.
Erin McDowell/Insider

Non-stick cookware has a coating that can easily be eaten at high heat.

The Washington Department of Ecology advises against cooking with cookware that is hotter than 400 degrees. The cast- iron pans are safe to use.

Ditch your carpet and stain-resistant fabrics

Carpets, water-resistant clothing, and stain-resistant treatments for fabrics can also contain PFC. Researchers don't think the chemicals can be absorbed into your body through your skin, but those fabrics can leave a trail of dust in the house, which can lead to ingestion or inhaling.

Vacuum, dust, and open the windows

man opens sliding glass door window in living room
A property manager opens the window of a vacant house in the town Kamakura outside Tokyo, on November 15, 2014.
Thomas Peter/Reuters

Humans are able to breathe the chemicals into their lungs because of the dust that accumulates in the air. Dust levels in your home can be kept low and the amount of PFAS you inhale can be reduced by opening windows.

Test and maybe treat your drinking water

It is possible to test your water for PFAS. If you have children, you may want to take action if the water is too high.

Person filling water bottle from sink faucet
A person fills a bottle with tap water.
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Exposure to PFOA and PFOS has been linked to decreased vaccine response in children. The US Environmental Protection Agency revised its drinking-water guidelines due to the research. The agency proposed to classify those two substances as hazardous substances.

Some types of water filters can reduce the levels of PFCs in the water. Reverse Osmosis systems are recommended by state environmental departments. A 2020 study found mixed results from the filters that use charcoal, which can be installed on faucets house-wide.

The EPA recommends that you contact your state environmental or health agency for certified labs and safety standards if you get your drinking water from a well.

Check before you buy cosmetics

woman applies eyeliner to another womans eye
A woman applies makeup to her friend in Nashville, Tennessee, on December 20, 2013.
Harrison McClary/Reuters

The results of 231 cosmetic products were published last year. Indicators of the chemicals were found in more than half of the products.

The Environmental Working Group has a database of cosmetics and personal-care products that can be found on the internet. There's a map where you can check if you live near a contaminated area.

A guide to cosmetics is one of the products kept by the Green Science Policy Institute.

People don't need to be concerned about low-level exposure since there's no evidence of major health impacts. Reducing the use of PFAS in consumer products could prevent the problem from getting worse.

"We should use this to get a bit angry about what's happened and try and make change so that we don't keep doing this," he said. We may need to use PFAS in some cases, but only when they are absolutely essential. We should try to innovate and replace them in the long run.