Jan 26, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Use Teflon Cookware

I can't tell you how long it's been since I used a Teflon pan. At least a decade. I have stainless steel pots and pans, plus a few cast iron skillets and a cast iron Dutch oven. They work great! But I confess I've grown tired of cooking one pancake at a time, with my children eating them faster than I can cook them. So recently, I decided I should buy a large griddle. Thinking ahead to living in our tiny house motor home, I thought it would be smart to buy an electric griddle with high sides - that way I could use it to cook more things, thereby reducing the need for certain other pans. But it didn't take long for me to realize this type of griddle isn't available without a Teflon coating. In fact, I could only find one electric griddle that wasn't Teflon-coated - and it has rotten reviews. Oh, how I wish they still made electric cast iron griddles!*

When I mentioned my plight on my personal Facebook page, one of my friends wondered why I was going to such great lengths to avoid Teflon. This made me realize that many people are not yet be aware of the dangers of this common cooking product. Hence this post.

Toxic Gasses

Heated Teflon releases 15 toxic gases. Which ones escape depend upon the temperature the pan reaches, but the outgassing begins at 396 degrees F. 

The manufacturers of Teflon already recommend that birds owners don't use Teflon cookware anywhere near birds. Why? Because Teflon's toxic outgassing frequently kills birds. But guess what? There is a name for when the outgassing affects humans, too: "Teflon flu." In fact, experts say most people confuse Teflon flu with...the flu. The symptoms are the same and go away after a time.

But it Gets Worse

In 2005, the EPA announced most humans - and probably wildlife - hada man-made chemical called PFOA in their bloodstream. According to Toxicologist Tim Kropp, PhD, "It would take your body two decades to get rid of 95% of it, assuming you are not exposed to any more. But you are."

Manufacturers claimed PFOA was only used to make Teflon and should not be on or in the finished product. But studies show that Teflon cookware does emit PFOA when heated to 446 degrees F or more.

Now, you might think: "I'd never cook anything at that temperature!" But it takes only 2 minutes for a Teflon pan to reach this temperature. If you accidentally burn something in the pan, or leave the pan, forgotten, on a hot stove, the pan will likely begin emitting toxic gas. In addition, stove drip pans may be Teflon coated, and can reach dangerous temperatures, also.

Health Hazard

PFOA is known to cause cancer, liver damage, growth defects, birth defects, and more in lab animals, according to WebMD. It's also known to cause birth defects in women working in or living near Teflon plants - and might also be linked to high cholesterol. And in 2005, the EPA named Teflon a likely human carcinogen.

Other products contain Teflon chemicals, including clothing, carpets, furniture (most anything water or stain resistant) - even the tape that seals your water pipes. These items aren't normally heated, so toxic gas isn't a concern. (Except Teflon irons. Ugh!) But PFOA does not break down, so whatever we put into the environment isn't going away any time soon.

Manufacturers of Teflon have until this year - 2015 - to remedy Teflon's problem. Manufacturers say their Teflon products no longer contain PFOA - but what about all the other outgassing? And since the inventor and patent holder of Teflon (DuPont) apparently knew about the dangers of Teflon before anyone else did, do you trust them? I don't.

And that's why I won't be buying any Teflon cookware.


* In case you're curious: I do know about non-electric cast iron griddles, but I'm not sure one will work with our motor home's small, three-burner stove. And I do know about ceramic griddles - but in my experience they don't work well after just a couple of uses.

6 comments:

  1. This is what I have. http://www.pamperedchef.com/shop/Cookware/Executive+Cookware+Double+Burner+Griddle/2867 I earned it back when I was selling Pampered Chef. It doesn't say Teflon. Makes me wonder about it! It's been a great griddle. I'm able to cook pancakes on it with no oil or butter at all. You aren't allowed to use cooking spray on it, but I've not had a problem with things sticking. So go ahead and give me the issues with my pan. LOL I want to know. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well, no clue what Autograph 2 is.. prob another form of Teflon! Googled and found this: PFOA Phaseout DuPont committed to no longer make, buy or use PFOA by 2015, we have already met that goal. We no longer make, buy or use PFOA. We made this commitment because we recognize people have questions about PFOA, and also due to customer interest in product alternatives.
    We made rapid progress in developing and transitioning to a new generation of products and processes that have reduced environmental impact and do not sacrifice performance. Today, DuPont no longer makes PFOA and no longer uses PFOA in the manufacture of fluoropolymer-based products.
    » Refer to DuPont Progress Report

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is true, Staci, but as I wrote, DuPont new about the problems with Teflon, and never told anyone - so I no longer trust DuPont. And they say nothing about their new Teflon not having all the other hazardous gasses I mention.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You could try a comal: http://mexicanfood.about.com/od/resources/a/comal.htm

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello! We recently got a ceramic electric griddle and "so far so good". I was glad to see such a thing but cannot help but wonder if "someone" will find something wrong with it some day too?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Which one did you buy, Joanne? My mom-in-law has a ceramic frying pan that is completely STICK rather than non-stick. I bought an Oster electric griddle that was ceramic and it burned everything and was such a pain to clean.

    ReplyDelete