Article by Dr. Linda Posch MS SLP ND
Since its debut, Teflon coated cookware has increased in popularity in kitchens worldwide. With good reason – this handy non-stick coating is simply a dream. Easy to cook on and easy to clean!
Teflon has literally revolutionized the manufacture of cookware. Even the worst of kitchen disasters cleans up in a jiffy when cooking on Teflon. One would be hard pressed to find any kitchen that did not have at least one Teflon coated piece of cookware. Teflon has become the way of the world.
Like many scientific breakthroughs, Teflon was accidentally discovered over 70 years ago by a scientist employed by DuPont.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserts that DuPont has purposely withheld health hazardous information regarding Teflon since the early 1980’s. Teflon pans made prior to 2013 may contain Peflourooanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to produce Teflon, that has been appearing in blood samples of people world wide. DuPont, slapped with approximately 300 million dollars in fines, has agreed to pay a 108 million dollar lawsuit brought about by residents near one of its company plants as elevated levels of PFOA’s have been found in surrounding drinking water supplies.
According to risk assessments by the EPA, PFOA’s present significant developmental and reproductive risks in humans with the use of Teflon:
An increased rate of birth defects has been found in mothers working at DuPont. The company’s response was to move female employees to other sections of the plant in an effort to reduce their exposure to PFOA’s.
The chemical coating that we have all come to benignly cook on is also used in fire fighting foam and phone cables.
Variants of FPOA’s are used to make the coating on stain resistant carpets and flame retardants for clothing and computers.
Teflon can also be found in nail polish removers, eyeglasses, and as lining in pizza boxes.
PFOA’s do not break down in the environment anytime soon, causing forever pollution. According to Tim Kropp, a toxicologist with the Environmental Working Group, if all future exposure is cut off, it would take the body at least 20 years to detoxify Teflon chemicals. Finally, the EPA has recommended that PFOA be classified as a human carcinogen.
Be advised that Teflon is the trade name for a line of cookware. Other lines of non stick cookware that use the Teflon coating includes Greblon, Silverstone, Supra, and Excaliber. This is not a comprehensive list. Check before you buy.
Careful as we try to be, it inevitable that our Teflon pots and pans will endure scratches at some point. In fact, many are certain to have an old, bruised, battered, and scratched Teflon pan that has been part of the kitchen arsenal for years and years. Hardly a utensil that should be used for cooking. A utensil that delivers a dangerous toxic load with each meal it helps prepare. Given the fact that Teflon is typically used to cover aluminum pots and pans, we are experiencing yet a double chemical assault as explained below.
The bottom line – If you have older Teflon cookware its associated by-products are potentially dangerous and pose a significant health hazard to all. Don’t purchase used Teflon pans from thrift stores for use in your home. Teflon cookware made after 2013, is now made with PTFE (polytetrafluoroethelyene) which is considered safe for the time being.
Aluminum Cookware – Aluminum cookware is not desirable due to the Alzheimer’s and aluminum toxicity connection. If you will notice, your aluminum foil has a dull side and a shiny side. The dull side is a protective coating that separates the aluminum foil from contact with your food. The shiny side is unprotected. Thus, the dull side should always surround food items.
On the toxic cookware page  you have a statement about aluminum foil that says the dull side of the foil contains a coating and that side should surround food items. This is wrong. The dull and shinny sides are due to the manufacturing process where in the last pass in making the foil thinner, where two sheets of foil are passed between 2 rollers to make them thinner. The sides that touch the rollers become shinny and the sides in the middle of the 2 sheets become the dull side. There is no protection coating.
However, there are some aluminum foils that are considered non stick which do have a coating that is placed between the 2 sheets on the final pass between the rollers. In this type of foil, the coating would be on the dull side and is intended to go against the food. Now I have no idea if this coating is safe or would be safer than the aluminum itself as I could not find out what chemicals are involved in that process. Reynolds says it’s a “proprietary food-safe coating”  but I will not trust the manufacture if it is not willing to disclose the chemicals involved. – from John M. Camary (10/12/15)
Canned Goods – Canned goods now have an interior dull wax coating in an effort to keep food and aluminum separated from one another. Chewing gum wrappers are protected with a paper coating preventing contact with gum.
Glass Cookware – Older glass cookware sets come with a lead toxicity problem. However, improvements in manufacturing the past 10 years have eliminated this issue. Newer glass cookware is perfectly acceptable.
Ceramic Coated Cast-Iron Cookware – Ceramic coated cast iron or stoneware has proven benign as well.
Categories:Baking Dishes and Pans
2 Responses to “Toxic Cookware – Beware!”
I’ve just retired my Silverstone griddle in favour of a cast iron pan. How can I safely dispose of the Teflon coated griddle? I don’t want it to go into landfill.
My favorite part of this article is many people would undoubtedly have an old, bruised, damaged, and scratched Teflon pan that has been in their kitchen for years. Someone recently told me about this and it is different from what I understand. Thanks for helping me understand PTFE Teflon coating.