Science Settled – Non-Stick Cookware Is Toxic – Here’s What You Need To Know

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Science Settled - Non-Stick Cookware Is Toxic - Here's What You Need To Know
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Nonstick cookware has long been a must-have item for pancake and fried egg lovers – and it’s easy to see why. Nonstick pans allow you to clean up easily, and they use less oil than their uncoated counterparts. While this sounds like a win-win situation, it’s not! In fact, the risks of using nonstick cookware outweigh the benefits. Why so? The coating that facilitates the highly marketable ‘nonstick appeal’ is actually a health hazard – the devil is in the detail.

Are Non-Stick Pans Safe?

The short answer is NO! Most nonstick cookware is coated with Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE) due to the chemical’s ability to repel oil, grease, and water. The chemical was initially made by using perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – and if you keep tabs on harmful human-made compounds, you might have come across PFOA.

After the public, regulatory bodies, and medical researchers called out PFOA for their adverse health impact, Dupont came up with GenX – introduced as a safer alternative to PFOA. Here’s the funny thing: GenX and PFOA both fall under a notorious group of chemicals known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Unsurprisingly, recent findings indicate that GenX and its highly criticized cousin, PFOA, are two sides of the same coin. Substituting a known toxic chemical with an option that has a similar structure really doesn’t sound like the most innovative idea, does it?

The compounds have attracted widespread scrutiny from environmental and health watchdogs. In particular, organizations such as the Federal Drug Administration [1] (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency [2] (EPA), and Green Science Policy Institute [3] have made efforts to warn consumers on the dangers of PFAS – especially based on their widespread usage in industrial, cleaning, and packaging products.

What Are The Health Risks Of Nonstick Cookware?

A study [4] published in the Journal of Environmental Health Perspectives approximates that up 98% of the U.S. population has traces of PFAS in their blood. Nonstick pans and other Teflon-coated kitchenware can leach toxic PFAS into your food or the air, leading to severe health impacts. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry [5] (ASDR), using nonstick cookware exposes you to the following risks:

• Interference with proper immune function
• Increased risk of Infertility in women
• Behavior, learning, and growth of children
• Hormone imbalance
• Increased cholesterol levels
• Increased risk of developing cancer

Ditching the nonstick kitchenware will definitely come with a few minor inconveniences – e.g., the amount of time you spend on dishes. But this is an inconvenience you should be willing to take if you care about your health and the sustainability of the environment. So, what should you use for cooking your fried eggs in the morning? From an environmental and consumer health perspective, it’s advisable to go for glass, stainless steel, and cast-iron alternatives. Safeguard your body, our waterways, and environment from toxic PFAs by ditching your nonstick cookware.

References:

[1] FDA Tests Confirm Suspicions about PFAS Chemicals in Food. (2019). Retrieved 25 October 2019, from https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2019/06/fda-tests-confirm-suspicions-about-pfas-chemicals-food

[2] EPA seeks public input on draft toxicity assessments for PFAS chemicals | US EPA. (2019). Retrieved 25 October 2019, from https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-seeks-public-input-draft-toxicity-assessments-pfas-chemicals

[3] The Madrid Statement. (2015). Retrieved 25 October 2019, from https://greensciencepolicy.org/madrid-statement/

[4] Calafat, A. M., Wong, L. Y., Kuklenyik, Z., Reidy, J. A., & Needham, L. L. (2007). Polyfluoroalkyl chemicals in the US population: data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003–2004 and comparisons with NHANES 1999–2000. Environmental health perspectives, 115(11), 1596-1602. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2072821/

[5] ASDR. (2019). Retrieved 25 October 2019, from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html

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