The Gaia Reports - Environmental news and updates from investigative journalist - Theodora Filis -
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Consider The Health Risks Before Buying Teflon-Coated, Non-Stick Pans
By Theodora Filis
“Industrial products developed with Teflon® fluoropolymer coatings, resins, additives, and films have exceptional resistance to high temperatures, chemical reaction, corrosion, and stress cracking. The properties of Teflon® make it the preferred solution for a host of industrial applications and different processing techniques.” DuPont Industries
Before you buy that new Teflon-coated, non-stick pan, consider this: the EPA has taken action against DuPont (the maker of Teflon) for failing to warn the public of the associated health risks of Perfluorooctanoic Acid, or "PFOA,"a synthetic chemical used in manufacturing fluoropolymers.
Perfluorooctanoic Acid, used in some Teflon® products, isn't limited to just non-stick cookware. Products using Teflon range from water-resistant carpets to Gore-Tex jackets to lubricant and more. In fact, Teflon is so prevalent that PF0A has been found to contaminate 92% of US children tested to date, and most of the adult population as well.
The Environmental Working Group wants the Consumer Products Safety Commission to put warning labels on Teflon cookware.
In 1981, DuPont first discovered the toxic, Teflon-related substance in the blood of some pregnant women working in their Teflon production facility. DuPont illegally kept the discovery of this possibly hazardous toxin a secret until 2001.
Although DuPont claims no known PFOA health hazards to humans have ever been discovered or proven, they do acknowledge that Teflon fumes kill birds, and that it is not safe for humans to use Teflon in temperatures exceeding 500 degrees. Researchers have also linked PF0A to developmental and reproductive abnormalities in animals, according to Legal Watch.
DuPont denies that "polymer fume fever,"which causes flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath, has any long-term health consequences. Substantial amounts of PFOA found in the public water supplies in West Virginia and Ohio has prompted a class action suit against DuPont.
Safe cookware is a one that doesn't produce any toxic substance during cooking. The manufacturing material and coating determine if it is safe. The interior surface material which could be either a coating layer or base material is vital to the safety because it contacts with food directly.
Teflon coated nonstick fry pans are not safe because they release toxic fumes when heated above certain temperature. There are many concerns about Teflon nonstick fry pans. Many lawsuits have been filed over the nonstick surface both as a cookware and in its manufacturing.
Too, pure aluminum fry pans are not safe. Colic, rickets, gastrointestinal problems, interference with the metabolism of calcium, extreme nervousness, anemia, headaches, decreased liver and kidney function, memory loss, speech problems, softening of the bones, and aching muscles can all be caused by aluminum toxicity.
Teflon-free titanium has many advantages due to titanium metal properties. They are healthier, lighter, lasts longer, heats quickly, easy to clean. But don't be confused with nonstick titanium or titanium reinforced cookwares. Titanium means pure titanium material without any coating while nonstick titanium or titanium reinforced ones have coatings made of material similar to Teflon. There is an easy way to tell the difference. Titanium cookwares have a silver metal color while others are dark colors. Choose Teflon-free nonstick.
Hard-Anodized aluminum use Teflon for interior coating too.
"Green Guide" recommends bird owners replace all nonstick pans and avoid using cookie sheets, Teflon-lined ovens and burners lined with Teflon drip pans. Birds exposed to fumes emitted by heated nonstick cookware resulted in bird poisonings called "Teflon toxicosis." The lungs of exposed birds filled with fluid, causing hemorrhage and death from suffocation.
The Society of Plastics Industry acknowledges PFOA as "persistent in the environment." The EPA reports that PFCs are a "present (environmental) persistence" and have "bio-accumulation and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree."