I have always liked my nonstick pans until recently when I started researching their toxicity. Ever heard of “Teflon Flu”? It feels like the flu with symptoms including headaches, chills, backache, and a fever between 100 and 104 degrees. Cooking with Teflon can make you sick if the non-stick pan gets overheated which to my surprise happens in just a few minutes. At 554 degrees fahrenheit studies show ultra-fine particles start coming off the pan. These are tiny little particles that can embed deeply into the lungs. The hotter the pan, the more chemicals that are released. This is caused by perfluroctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic chemical used in the production of Teflon and other similar non-stick coatings.
Low and behold, Dupont, the maker of non stick pans, has been hiding their health data about the dangers of PFOA for 20 years resulting in a number of class action lawsuits being filed against them in 2006. The lawsuits charge the company with exposing millions of Americans to serious health risks from cooking pans. AND if that’s not scary enough, in January 2006 the EPA posted its outside panel’s draft report suggesting that the Agency strengthen its study of the Teflon chemical PFOA and call it a “likely” human carcinogen”.
What’s a non-stick pan lover to do? There are some great alternatives for when you do choose to replace your non-stick pans. Watch out for “non-stick” labeling and ask if the coating is PTFE, even if it’s not Teflon. Be sure to choose stainless steel, cast iron, or enameled iron pans.