Cookware Toxins from Non-Stick Pans
Growing up we always had stainless steel pans. At some point we replaced all those pans for non-stick sauté pans. The goal was that they were easier and faster to clean. We live in the era of convenience right? After a few too many years of “convenience” I replaced all those non-stick pans with the original stainless steel and a few cast iron pans. Why go backwards? Sometimes “forwards” isn’t really progress (Note: GMO food, plastic and antibacterial everything)
Back to the pans…. what is wrong with those easy to clean non-stick pans? Generally, non-stick pans are aluminum coated with a synthetic. Previously they were coated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). EWG studies, conducted by DuPont’s own scientists, revealed that when its non-stick cookware is heated it breaks down into 15 types of toxic gases and particles. In 2004 a $343 million dollar lawsuit was won for contamination of drinking water and an association of tumors and developmental problems in animals. The EPA was advised to declare PFOA as a carcinogen. Eight companies agreed to phase out PFOA by 2015. (Take note: how old are your pans?)
Non-stick pans may also include polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) also known as Teflon. High temperatures have caused toxic fumes (including six toxic gases, which include two carcinogens. Fumes from these pans to kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu like symptoms. Unfortunately the coating also breaks down and the toxic particles are carcinogenic.
PFC’s contaminate the environment and find their way into your blood stream. Residue from these substances has been found in blood, breast milk, liver and even umbilical cords. High levels have been associated with peripheral artery disease, high “bad” cholesterol, insulin resistance, and thyroid disease.
“Safety suggestions” include using lower temperatures and making sure not to damage the coating. Lower temperatures tested were all exceeded by the average cooking temperature. It would totally eliminate preheating pans, broiling, and searing meat. In addition, ventilating your kitchen and keeping birds out of the kitchen. The best safety suggestion is likely replacing any non-stick cookware you may have.
Logical solutions: replace one pan at a time. Good pans are not cheap. (Neither is long-term illness.) Start with your most common used pan (likely a stovetop pan that you scrape with a spatula and cook at higher than safe temperatures. Work your way through until you have a safer set of pans. Stainless steel, cast iron or glass for bake ware.
As with most things it is impossible to avoid all PFC’s (more next week on where else they are hiding) so cutting down on the ones you can control is a difference maker.