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,