Could your home furnishings be the cause of fatigue, depression, constipation, weight gain or feeling cold? One Taiwanese doctor has linked the symptoms of an underactive thyroid with high PFC levels in the blood which come from our carpets, fabrics, wallpaper and even our cosmetics.

 What are PFCs?

PFCs are Perfluorinated compounds which were used in the past in the manufacturing of many soft furnishings and carpets in our homes. These PFC compounds, once inside the body, linger and accumulate. They take a long time to be broken down by the body, surreptitiously causing long-term problems on human health.

Although these compounds have been banned from production processes by most major manufacturers, the products themselves are still wreaking havoc in our homes. The long-term effect of having contact with these PFCs on a daily basis remains unknown.

High PFC Levels Disrupt the Thyroid

PFCs are known to disrupt the endocrine system in our body which is responsible for controlling the metabolic system. The thyroid is part of this system. It creates the thyroid hormone which controls energy consumption and triggers the basal metabolic rate.

Researchers studied data on 1,100 people collected by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In particular, the study looked at the levels of different PFCs in the body, and at the participants' thyroid function. The study showed that higher levels of PFCs in the body appeared to significantly alter the thyroid function. Furthermore, PFCs may also increase the risk of women actually developing an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and showed the connection between PFCs and an underactive thyroid. This would typically cause symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, constipation, dry brittle hair and skin, depression and other health problems. Doctors presented with these symptoms may never consider that they are caused by the patient's home furnishings – until this study showed a clear connection.

PBDEs in your Home Furnishings

Another dangerous collection of toxic chemicals are Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) which started to be used in the production of furniture such as sofas in the 1970s. The chemicals were applied to make furnishing flame retardant. Unfortunately, instead of making our homes safer, they introduced a new health hazard. Like PFCs, these chemicals also harm the endocrine system. They were banned after being shown to cause problems with motor coordination, lower IQs and attention problems in babies exposed to the chemicals during pregnancy or in early childhood.

These PBDE chemicals have now been banned, but many homes still have furniture that contains them. Older foam sofas may release more of these toxic chemicals as they age and start to disintegrate. Replacing furniture can be costly but researchers suggest that regularly vacuuming your furniture and carpets can help remove the chemicals from your home as they break down.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism, a simple blood test can show your thyroid hormone levels and treatment is available to correct it if necessary. It is alarming to think that some of the most serious hazards that jeopardize our health actually lie within our home furnishings.