PFOA and PTFE Cookware – About Your Health

The debate about nonstick cookware doesn’t contest its convenience or ease of use. It concerns itself with whether two compounds: PFOA and PTFE are safe, especially when used as cooking surfaces. There are a number of responses to this issue, depending on how extensively the potential harm of these substances is considered.

Some cooks are concerned primarily with potential adverse effects to their own health. Others have to consider the wellbeing of young children they cook for. And of course there are those who want to understand the consequences their decisions in the kitchen have on the environment as a whole.

PTFE Cookware


PFOA, PTFE and the Differences between the Two

PFOA, short for perfluorooctanoic acid, is a synthetic compound that has many applications. It is known to repel water and oil and is used in the manufacturing process of some PTFE cookware.PTFE, a distinct substance, is a synthetic polymer. It’s best known by the brand name polymer, which is a trademark of the DuPont Company.DuPont is a US based chemical manufacturer where, in the 1930s, an employee inadvertently produced the first batch of PTFE while working on a different project. DuPont quickly started manufacturing PTFE for industrial applications.PTFE was famously used as a valve and pipe sealant during World War II nuclear experiments known as The Manhattan Project. It is extremely strong and tough but is also flexible, which made it a good option.

Potential Dangers of PFOA and PTFE Cookware

Cookware coated with PTFE has been FDA approved since 1960. However, misinformation has resulted in many people being fearful that cooking with polymer or other nonstick pans can cause cancer or illness.One of the most commonplace misconceptions is that cooking with scratched or flaking nonstick pans is hazardous to people’s health. While pieces of nonstick coating can flake off into food, this is not the number one risk associated with nonstick pans.Even the American Cancer Society acknowledges that polymer/PTFE is not a carcinogen. It is the PFOA used in the manufacturing process that can be hazardous.PFOA is known to be a toxic, cancer causing agent in animals. It is used in the production of some, but not all PTFE cookware to bond PTFE to the cooking vessel.PFOA exposure is linked to kidney and testicular cancer, colitis, thyroid problems, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in pregnancy.But, cooking with nonstick frying pans is not considered to be a relevant or worrisome source of exposure to PFOA.

Why consider PFOA-Free alternatives?

There are two major reasons to consider PFOA-Free alternatives.First off, most nonstick pans should not be used to cook at high heats. While PFOA exposure via PTFE cookware is not a major concern, almost all nonstick pans contain fluorine, a chemical that burns off when overheated.Fluorine exposure can be dangerous to humans and pets–especially birds, who have more sensitive respiratory systems. While the possibility of significant exposure is rare, drastic overheating of nonstick cookware can result in a condition called polymer-fume fever. Symptoms include headache, fever and chills. Pet birds may even die from overexposure.Prevention involves never heating PTFE cookware over 500 degrees. This means you’ll need to choose a different cooking vessel, like cast iron skillets  or stainless steel pans for searing steaks or anything else that requires a high heat. It’s also important to remember that nonstick frying pans should not be preheated–with or without oil.Furthermore, while cooking with PTFE might not hurt you or anyone you’re cooking for, if it’s manufactured using PFOA, it may be hurting someone else.

PTFE Alternatives

Though PTFE is still the most popular type of nonstick cookware, there are alternatives.Ceramic cookware is a great option available at a variety of price points. In response to concerns about PFOA and PTFE, T-fal, the original polymer pan manufacturer even makes a ceramic line of cookware.Like nonstick pans, cooks have to avoid scratching ceramic cookware and should not store them stacked together. Choosing the right utensils and cleaning tools is important when it comes to maintaining any nonstick pan: ceramic or PTFE.

Post time: Jul-24-2018