Lab technician and chemical beakers.

Dangers of Teflon

Canary in the Coal Mine

Non-stick cookware was once hailed as a miracle for the busy cook. There is hardly a kitchen in America that doesn’t have at least a small set of these pots and pans. While the ease of cooking and cleaning up has made them popular with many, the dangers of Teflon have yet to make the mainstream news.

 

Researchers have found that chemicals in Teflon emit toxic fumes when heated. Fumes that can kill birds- remember the canary in the coal mine?  It’s the same here, except every time you cook, tiny, toxic particles are released and potentially sickening you and your family.

 

Some of these toxic chemicals never break down in the environment and some are found in human blood.

Dangers of Teflon- Canary in a coal mine

DuPont studies show that Teflon pans

release at least 6 toxic gases, including two carcinogens and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses.

 

For decades, DuPont has claimed their Teflon coatings are safe with normal use. However, they have admitted that “significant decomposition of the coating will occur only when temperatures exceed about 660 degrees F. These temperatures are within the normal range.” New tests show Teflon cookware exceeds these temperatures through the common act of preheating a pan on high heat. DuPont acknowledges that the fumes can sicken people and kill birds.

 

Not surprisingly, the government has not assessed the safety of non-stick cookware. And while DuPont admits the fumes kills birds and can potentially sicken people, their cookware provides no warning label or safety data.

 

Safe cookware is readily available. Just like good wholesome food it’s been around for a very long time.  (Remember when food was really food?) What are your options?

Toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called "Teflon Flu" or, as scientists describe it, "Polymer fume fever"). Ingesting particles that flake off scratched non-stick cookware isn't toxic because solid PTFE flakes are inert.

Source: www.ewg.org

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Olga Naidenko, a Senior Scientist at EWG, informs us on the dangers of using non-stick pans, like Teflon, when cooking in your kitchen. Teflon pans produce toxic fumes which can create allergies and flu like symptom for users. EWG recommends avoiding Teflon pans and using cast iron or stainless steel pans. For more information visit www.ewg.org.

EWG Teflon Can Creat Negative Side Effects

#1 Cast Iron- Extremely durable and safe for high temperatures. It can be purchased pre-seasoned, ready-to-use.

#2 Stainless Steel- Perhaps the best for browning foods and a chef favorite, this old standby should be a main player in everyone’s kitchen.

#3 Enameled Cast Iron- Le Creuset carries handcrafted artisan cookware that is not only functional but beautiful as well.

#4 Corning Cookware - Non-toxic and made from abundant natural minerals.

Reni and Scampy at the beach, for the newsletter.

Here’s a tip 

To prevent food from sticking in any kind of pan, heat up the pan first, then add oil to the hot pan, and let the oil warm up before you put in your food. Ta-da! It shouldn’t stick. This may take some practice, but be encouraged by the fact that it can be done!

 

Healthy cooking is easy when you know what your options are. For more on the dangers of non-stick cookware view the resources listed below. 

 

How to Cook with Non-Stick if you’re Stuck with it

  • Never preheat nonstick cookware at high temps.

  • Use an exhaust fan.

  • Keep pet birds out of the kitchen – fumes can easily kill a bird in seconds.

  • Skip the self-cleaning function on your oven. Fumes can be toxic. Make your own safe and effective oven cleaner.

  • Choose a safer alternative when buying new cookware.

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