Teflon, Non-Stick Pans and Cooking without Fumes and Cancer Risks

Teflon, the common, non-stick coating which has made our lives easier also comes with a risk to health.  It’s been around 50 years or so and will remain with us, literally forever due to the fact it doesn’t break down. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), is the key ingredient in Teflon.  After being studied, PFOA has been named a “likely carginogen” by the EPA.  In 2006, the chemical industry voluntarily agreed to a U.S. EPA plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the release of PFOA into the environment and to reduce and eliminate any PFOA content in products.

Fumes from non-stick pans are released at high temperatues. These fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans, although very rarely, and are fatal to birds.  Regulatory agencies like the EPA suggest using non-stick pans at no higher than 350°C or 650°F. 

Alternative cookware materials which aren’t coated are available, but remember all metal pans will release metal into food during the cooking process.  Cast iron pans are thought to be a good way to increase iron levels.  This is not good, however, if you have hemochromatosis.  Stainless steel, cast iron, copper, glass and ceramics are other options for cookware.

PFOA’s can also be found in other products like water or stain resistant clothing, carpets and furniture treatments, packaging for greasy fast foods, microwave popcorn containers, nail polishes and shaving cream.  It gives a slippery, non-stick, stain and water resistant finish to many household products.

Copyright Lynn Argent, 2008. Reproduction is not permitted without written consent of the author.

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About Lynn

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3 Responses to Teflon, Non-Stick Pans and Cooking without Fumes and Cancer Risks

  1. Marlene Martens says:

    A comment about pots; as far as I know, the pots that I tested were stainless steel pots 18/10 with a copper base, vision ware glass pots, teflon coated pots and cast iron pots and aluminum pots and found that they leached chemicals into the foods that we are consuming. You would get transferance of metal cooking with stainless steel to some degree even if it was 304 stainless steel but not as much as you would get using 18/10 stainless steel pots. I found that the vision ware contained lead in the glass (my husband tested it with an analyzer that checks for lead and other substances that are harmful, again leaching lead into foods. The cast iron is so porous, it also is horrible to use and good old teflon, really, really bad, need not explain that one. The pots I was able to get my hands on pots that passed all tests are made with 316L surgical stainless steel (purest form of stainless steel), and there is no transferance of metal leaching into foods, as well when using these pots, there is no need to cook foods at high temperatures, foods are cooked at the lowest setting on the stove top, also saving energy. Microwave cooking is not something that I’m a fan of either. This is just my little knowledge on the kinds of cookware that are out there.

  2. Lynn says:

    Wow. Thanks for that information, Marlene. Lead in Vision Ware, too? That’s too bad. Can you tell me the kind of pots you found to be safest?

  3. aahavaa says:

    Marlene ,what metals does stainless steel leach into the foods? All my cookware is s steel since I thought it was the safest.Cooking with glass saucepans I tried in the past but its hard to regulate the heat with them.

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