Tag Archives: Environmental Working Group

Be Informed – Non-Stick Pans Pose Danger

I used a non-stick frying pan up until 4 years ago which is when I read a Dr. Mercola article on the dangers of non stick cookware.  I had no idea that Teflon or other non-stick coatings were dangerous to our health!

Non-stick cookware has become a norm in our world of ease and convenience, and has been around since 1938.  It is actually very hard to find a single frying pan that isn’t non-stick in stores.

Non-stick coatings on cooking pans contain highly poisonous chemical substances and can release very harmful gases and particles when heated during everyday cooking, according to research published by the Environmental Working Group.

What is Dangerous About Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware?

A synthetic chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, and known as either PFOA or C8, is used in the manufacture of Teflon and non-stick pans.

When Teflon or nonstick pans are heated, the coating can break apart and release toxic particles and gases. DuPont, the manufacturers of Teflon pans, has released data which shows the temperatures required to release these gases. Their results show that:

  • Teflon begins to emit gases at around 464°F
  • At 680°F Teflon emits up to 6 toxic gases, including 2 carcinogens, 2 global pollutants, and MFA (a chemical deadly to humans at low doses)

A test published by the Environmental Working Group shows that a Teflon pan can easily be heated to above 720°F in five minutes during the normal process of pre-heating. Teflon and non-stick coatings become more harmful the older and more scratched they become.

The Impact of Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware

Although the long term impact of the chemicals and fumes released from Teflon are not fully understood, we do know that they pose a very real danger to birds, and that they can make humans ill.

‘Teflon toxicosis’ is a condition that occurs in birds when they are exposed to the gases released from Teflon. Their lungs hemorrhage, causing them to fill up with fluid which leads to suffocation. Bird owners should never use non-stick cookware or Teflon pans.

‘Polymer fume fever’ is a human reaction to the gases emitted by hot Teflon. Many people experience this condition without realizing it as its symptoms are very similar to influenza. They include fever, chills and nausea. We do not know the long term effects on humans of polymer fume fever or the exposure to Teflon coatings.

Dr. Mercola mentions that other unrelated studies have also found evidence of birth defects in babies from PFOA-exposed workers. In 1981, 2 out of 7 women who worked at a non-stick coating plant gave birth to babies with birth defects.  He also mentions that Teflon may cause infertility.

Alternatives to Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware

Rest assured there are plenty of alternatives to Teflon pans and non-stick cookware, and they’ll probably cook your food more effectively too.

A non-stick alternative to Teflon pans is ceramic cookware (Mercola.com has a good brand) which are inert, will last a lifetime, and can easily be washed in the dishwasher. Glass and stainless steel are great alternatives, which are all safe to use.

To your health,

Kim Duess

You Be Healthy






Weekly Health Tip: Should You Always Buy Organic?

Brought to you by Deepak Chopra, M.D., Alexander Tsiaras, and TheVisualMD.com

The benefits of organic farming are undeniable. Crops grown without chemical pesticides do not contaminate the earth with toxic substances. Organic farmers use crop rotation and other natural processes to keep the soil healthy and fertile. Studies show that some (but not all) organically grown fruits and vegetables are higher in certain nutrients than the conventionally grown versions. But organic farming is more expensive than conventional farming, and that fact is reflected in the price of organic foods. As organic farming becomes more common, organic produce will be more widely available and prices should come down. For now, shop strategically. Some conventionally grown fruits and vegetables retain very low amounts of pesticides by the time they reach the marketplace. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an advocacy group that aims to protect public health and the environment. Using government analyses of pesticide levels in foods, the EWG has compiled a list of the fruits and vegetables most and least likely to have pesticide residues: The Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15. According to EWG, "You can lower your pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce." Check out the results of their research, below, before your next trip to the market.

The Dirty Dozen

These fruits and vegetables tend to be high in pesticide residue when grown conventionally. Buy them from an organic source whenever you can.







Sweet bell peppers

Spinach, kale, collard greens



Imported grapes



The Clean 15*

When grown conventionally, these items remain low in pesticide residue. There are fewer advantages to buying them from an organic source.



Sweet corn



Sweet peas


Kiwi fruit






Sweet potato

Sweet onion

*Data and title courtesy of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program has analyzed the pesticide levels of domestic food products since it began in 1991. The group tests washed, ready-to-eat produce. Between 1993 and 2003, about 58 percent of the sampled fruits and vegetables were found to contain pesticides, although in greatly varying amounts. There are six produce items in particular that had detectable residues on 90 percent of the samples for two years or more. These are apples, celery, cherries, nectarines, peaches and strawberries. Fewer than 1 percent of the produce sampled contained levels higher than those recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency.

For additional information: USDA Pesticide Data Program: Pesticide Residues on Fresh and Processed Fruit and Vegetables, Grains, Meats, Milk, and Drinking Water.

We have continuing discussions following this article on our Facebook Page.

Learn more about balancing your diet with healthful produce:

TheVisualMD.com: Foods to Enjoy

BPA – Nasty Chemical in Canned Food and Plastic Bottles

The toxic chemical BPA, or Bisphenol A is lurking in your hard plastic water bottles, baby sippy cups, dental sealants and in your canned food. BPA acts like estrogen and increases the risk of breast cancer and early puberty in women. It can cause reproductive damage and may lead to prostate and cancer and can cross into the placenta and get into your baby’s bloodstream.

The Environmental Working Group tested canned food bought across America and found BPA in more than half of them at levels they call "200 times the government’s traditional safe level of exposure for industrial chemicals." EWG found that of all foods tested, chicken soup, infant formula, and ravioli had BPA levels of highest concern. Just one to three servings of foods with these concentrations could expose a woman or child to BPA at levels that caused serious adverse effects in animal tests.

The December 2009 issue of Consumer Reports’ tested canned foods like soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, and found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain some BPA. The canned organic foods tested did not always have lower BPA levels than nonorganic brands of similar foods analyzed. They even found the chemical in some products in cans that were labeled "BPA-free."

This chemical is everywhere! BPA is in newspaper ink and carbonless copy paper – the stuff of credit card receipts and many business and medical documents. It turns out that the average cash register receipt has anywhere from 60 to 100 milligrams of BPA that can then be transferred onto our fingers and eventually into our body if we’re not careful. What’s not known is how much BPA is getting into our blood stream from touching receipt paper.

Also, you can’t tell if the paper receipt you were just handed at the grocery store contains BPA. They look exactly the same as the paper receipts without the toxic chemical. But there are still things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Make sure you wash your hands after touching any receipts especially if you’re pregnant. Another tip is to take all of your left over receipts out of your purse or wallet and keep them in a zip-lock bag somewhere out of children’s reach.

For now, BPA is legal to use. In the meantime, here are more ways to reduce your family’s exposure:

  • Don’t use canned baby formula
  • Don’t eat canned food if you’re pregnant, choose food in glass jars.
  • Check your kids baby bottles and sippy cups. If you see the # 7 on the bottom replace it with BPA-free plastic, or better yet, glass. (Connecticut, Minnesota, the city of Chicago and Suffolk County, New York, have banned baby bottles and sippy cups made with BPA.)
  • Choose fresh or frozen food over food in cans. The lining of cans of soups, tomato sauce and infant formula can leach BPA from the can lining.
  • Don’t heat plastic in your microwave or leave water bottles in a hot car
  • Use glass or metal water bottles to drink from
  • Store left over food in glass containers
  • Ask your dentist if the sealant being used on your kids’ teeth contains BPA

Beth Greer, Super Natural Mom™, is the bestselling author of Super Natural Home: Improve Your Health, Home and Planet…One Room at a Time as well as a radio talk show host and impassioned champion of toxin-free living who busts open the myth that our homes are safe havens. Beth is a contributing blogger for The Washington Times Communities and NaturallySavvy.com. Follow Beth on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook.

(photo credit: The Library of Congress)

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