What Is Teflon And Why You Should Avoid It

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At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.

So in just two to five minutes of normal stovetop use, the coating breaks down to a point at which it releases toxic chemicals into the environment – which is typically your kitchen. The other concern is that particles of PTFE can flake off, but it is thought that this does not cause harm when ingested as the chemical is inert when solid.

Teflon
Teflon

What Harm Can Teflon Cause To Health?

The fumes released from non-stick cookware have been known to be highly toxic to birds, as many pet birds die from ‘Teflon toxicosis’ each year. This is caused when their lungs hemorrhage and fill with fluid, causing suffocation. The deaths usually occur during or immediately after using non-stick cookware, in normal scenarios.

When humans are exposed to the fumes they can experience a condition known as ‘polymer fume fever’. This is characterized by flu-like symptoms, including headaches, chills, fever, coughing and chest tightness. The side effects do not usually develop until a few hours after exposure to the gases, and therefore many people do not make a connection between the cause and effect. The long-term effects of such exposure has not been studied. It is possible that many cases that we assume are ‘normal-flu’ are actually caused by Teflon.

As well as health concerns, the manufacture of non-stick compounds including PFCs also pose a serious risk to the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFCs present “persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree.teflonpans

Is It Possible To Use Teflon Safely?

The best option is to avoid non-stick cookware altogether. Safer choices are cast iron and stainless steel pots and pans. Oven-safe glass is the preferred choice for baking.

However, if you currently have non-stick, or teflon products, and are not in a position to change any time soon, there are measures that you can take to protect yourself and your family as much as possible.

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Comments

  1. I am a plastics engineer, so I know quite a bit about how different materials break down. Honestly, PTFE doesn’t worry me, however I will be looking into it a bit more. What does worry me is the breakdown of polycarbonate in food products, the precursor there is highly toxic. I just wanted to say though that your claim to switch to aluminum pots may be a step backwards. Any acidic conditions, i.e. tomato sauce will just break down the aluminum and you end up ingesting that. However, it is your choice! 🙂

    1. Yes but the point they made is that it breaks down before that, at closer to 450 degrees and that is within the normal range for cooking

  2. If only it were that simple, Brian. Unfortunately, like the clip suggests, temperatures above 500 degrees are reached very quickly — more quickly than most would assume — and the nonstick coating begins to break down before the temperature even reaches 500.

    >would you like a side of polytetrafluoroethylene or perfluorooctanoic acid with your eggs?

  3. Mobius – Why use it at all when there are alternatives? Even if I probably won’t overheat it, I don’t take the chance. And that’s OK steven george, we all don’t. 🙂

  4. OK – so none of you has ever read the proper instructions on how to use a non-stick pan then.

    Firstly, non-stick pans should only be purchased when they are heavyweights. Any and every chef will tell you that lightweight pans are essentially useless: dropping food in immediately lowers the temperature of the pan, and food boils rather than fies.

    So – throw out all those lightweight non-stick pans.

    Stick with known-good brands like Le Creuset.

    Secondly, non-stick pans must be used in the following manor (particularly over a gas flame):

    The flame or element should be approximately half the size of the pan, AND NO MORE. Use only the lowest heat setting on gas, or a temperature which only JUST makes butter bubble if you drop a dob on it.

    DO NOT ever turn the flame up to maximum.

    Let the pan do the work – not the element. Cooking at too high a temperature is not good. Smoking pans are pans which are too hot. No pan should EVER smoke!

    Whe3n you have finished cooking, do NOT drop the pan into water, or cool it quickly! Let the pan cool down naturally. This prolongs the lifetime of the non stick surface.

    I think you will find that if you follow these simple rules, the temperature in the pan will NEVER exceed the temperature at which dangerous chemicals are released, or where the Teflon starts to denature.

  5. It has been well-known for years that Teflon fumes will kill pet birds, even large parrots kept in rooms far away from the kitchen, if the Teflon pan is allowed to over-heat. If it kills birds, it probably doesn’t do us any good! Also, it’s used in countless other products, such as self-cleaning stoves and toaster ovens, not just pans. Watch for it!

  6. Looks like I am wrong

    We do need Chromium

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium
    Trivalent chromium (Cr(III), or Cr3+) is required in trace amounts for sugar metabolism in humans (Glucose Tolerance Factor) and its deficiency may cause a disease called chromium deficiency. In contrast, hexavalent chromium is very toxic and mutagenic when inhaled as popularized by the film Erin Brockovich. Cr(VI) has not been established as a carcinogen when not inhaled but in solution it is well established as a cause of allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).[2]

    I wonder what you get when you cook with stainless steel?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chromium_deficiency
    In the United States, the dietary guidelines for adequate daily chromium intake were lowered from 50-200 µg for an adult to 30- 35 µg (adult male) and to 20-25 µg (adult female).[1] Recently it has been shown that the popular dietary supplement chromium picolinate generates chromosome damage in hamster cells.

    Oh well.

    Still think I will stick with cast iron.
    Excuse the pun. Teflon,stick, cast iron 🙂

    No I don’t get out much.

    Grin

  7. got here via SU…

    Allen: Good point except for the fact that most of us eat meat. I dunno about you but raw chicken just doesn’t appeal…

    And as far as the arguments against using stainless steel, or even aluminum, give me a break. No matter what, they are safer than Dupont’s poisons. Once these chemicals get inside of you they NEVER leave. PFOA is actually worse than their final product (teflon), hence the massive amount of cancer and birth defects with the Dupont factory workers.

    Unfortunately, Dupont has a lot of clout with our Government. Hence the “2015” date they were given to “reduce” the amount of deadly and persistent chemicals they produce. 2015 might as well be an eternity away…

  8. Lol oh my goodness my dad said that Teflon can give you or cause cancer so we havexpect a pan that is peelin and I told my dad there is hell no way you are using that pan so and so I gave him a better pan you know and I ha e like only 15 and I am trying to keep my dad healthy from all these pan’s. And our pans are a few years old bit they areally still in good condition bUT they are like so worked out that we might need to get some one pans
    But I might throw away that one pan that I took away from my dad or go holiday it out in the yad

  9. The fear-mongering here is ridiculous. Unless you have a very specialized need to exceed 350 degrees, in which you’d be using specialized cookware anyway, PTFE is perfectly safe. Do any of you seriously cook above 400 degrees on a stove top? Just because a “a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds” doesn’t mean that’s a typical use case. That’s cranking the burner up to max and getting a worst case scenario. Think critically for a second.

    1. One more thing to add in case anyone’s unsure of how hot they’re actually cooking. Most cooking oils will start to smoke or burn between 400 and 450 degrees.

    2. How can you determine how hot is is actually getting? Envision cooling a steak, a pork chop. These things require time and a degree a high heat.

  10. Here’s the primary problem. DuPont knew all of this decades ago and continued to poison people until studies revealed that literally everyone on the planet has PFC in their blood and got it from the use of Teflon pans, stain resistant clothes and school uniforms even the military used it in munitions and the numerous siege weaponry and vehicles. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that DuPont even acknowledge any of this (as a result of insurmountable evidence) and stopped using the chemical Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). But then of course they replaced it with an equally dangerous chemical called Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) There’s even evidence that has surfaced alleging DuPont had pregnant female factory workers give birth to highly deformed children as a result of the direct exposure to (PTFE). Most of the babies born had an insanely high amount of the chemical in the blood. Teflon is Forever

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