Stain repellents, fire-fighting foam, water resistant clothing, non-stick cookware - these are all created using Perfluoroalkyl (PFAA) substances, which were first developed in the 1940s.
Now new Australian research has just discovered a link between these chemicals and the birthweight of babies.
PFAA chemincals Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluoroctane sulfonate (PFOS) have previously been found in the blood of pregnant women who went on to have smaller babies, and now new research from Edith Cowan University not only confirms that link, but reveals the related PFAA chemical Perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA) (found in non-stick cookware) is linked to bigger babies.
Why does this matter? Lead researcher Dr Anna Callan said having either a lower or higher birth weight "than appropriate" can mean increased chance of developing chronic diseases later in life.
"For example, higher birth weights have been linked with an increased risk of childhood obesity," she said.
Dr Callan says the research highlights the need to understand the effects that chemicals used in industrial processes have on us and our children, especially considering many of these chemicals can persist in the environment and in our bodies for decades after their use has been stopped.
A further study is planned to examine the long-term impacts of prenatal exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances.