We live in the age of convenience and the age of fast. We all want information fast, food fast, and our communication even faster. Gone are the days of laid back telephone conversations or dare I say, dinner conversations. We’re in so much of a hurry many of us are failing to stop a minute and see exactly what’s at stake here. We don’t even want to be bothered taking the time to melt some butter on our pans so food doesn’t stick, so we opt for non-stick pans.
When it comes to non-stick cookware Teflon leads the way. Teflon was invented way back in 1938 at a DuPont laboratory. This trademarked substance is touted as the slipperiest substance around. Teflon is technically known as polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. Teflon is most known for its convenience in the kitchen but this slippery substance is also used in aerospace, communications, electronics, and many more industries today.
The Dangers of Teflon
Do you use Teflon pots and pans? Are your cabinets filled with these commonly used kitchen cookwares? If they are, or if someone you know is using Teflon, it’s vital to read on and find out just what you may be doing to your body by simply using these Teflon cookware pieces.
Sadly, Teflon presents a real danger that most American households don’t know about today. Although the advertisement on DuPont’s website for Teflon is “How the Teflon brand makes life easier,” in the long run Teflon can cause a host of serious health problems that will seriously complicate your life.
Here’s the how and why of Teflon and its impact on your health.
Teflon and Your Health
Teflon is made from a chemical called PFOA or C8. This is a type of perfluorinated chemical or PFC. PFCs are also used to make stain resistant fabrics, certain packaging materials, and non-stick products.
In a study by West Virginia University of 69,000 men, women, and children in West Virginia and Ohio who live near a DuPont manufacturing plant it was found that there are serious, adverse health effects from being exposed to these dangerous chemicals.
In fact, it was noted by researchers that PFCs, used to make Teflon, impair a person’s immune system, liver, and thyroid and causes higher cholesterol rates in children.
This study spanning the course of several years led by West Virginia University researchers is part of a multi-million dollar lawsuit settlement against DuPont and funded largely by the corporation. The lawsuit is over the intentional dumping of PFOAs in the drinking water supplies of the area.
And if immune, liver, and thyroid problems weren’t enough, more research into Teflon, PFOAs, and PFCs indicate this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to health issues from these potent chemicals.
In results from this project, C8 Health Project Data, scientists reminded us that one of the most alarming aspects of these findings is that PFCs don’t break down in the body but accumulate over years of exposure.
Equally worrisome is that children’s developing bodies are even more susceptible to these health problems and can cause them long term problems.
But that’s not the end of the list of serious health issues from Teflon.
Teflon and Infertility
We hear so often today about women who have tried and tried without success to become pregnant. It seems infertility is more common today than it was just a few decades ago.
New scientific evidence is now revealing that the chemicals, specifically PFOAs, found in Teflon may be linked to infertility in women. In a report published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) it was stated that women who have had trouble getting pregnant have higher levels of PFOAs in their blood. (This took into account other factors that cause fertility problems like age, age of spouse, sperm issues, timing of sex and frequency.)
The EWG report goes on to report that according to a UCLA study led by Chunyuan Fei it has been linked that mothers with higher levels of PFOAs in their blood have toddlers and babies who are less likely to reach developmental milestones early.
These are results that really should make us question what these dangerous chemicals are doing to our body everyday.
Teflon: A Known Carcinogen in Your Food
You may be surprised, as many unknowing consumers first are, to learn of the serious dangerous of Teflon pots and pans. So many people cook with these pots and pans it’s hard to believe that they could be causing such serious health issues, yet are still being sold without a word of warning by government agencies to the public. But maybe the government agencies that are set up to protect us from these issues, like the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, have no knowledge that these are harmful. Well think again.
An independent science panel conducted studies on DuPont’s Teflon chemical PFOA. In 2005 they released to the EPA their findings on Teflon reporting to the EPA that PFOAs (used to make Teflon) are “likely human carcinogen.”
And if that doesn’t scare you enough maybe you’d like to know that the EPA alleged that DuPont knew of serious health issues surrounding PFOAs and Teflon for twenty years and covered up the evidence while continuing to sell these products to unknowing consumers – as it continues to do today.
DuPont and the EPA reached an agreement to this suit but neither side will reveal the details.
More Studies on Teflon & Serious Health Problems
The number of studies on PFOAs, Teflon, and health problems goes on and on. I’d like to share many of them with you so you too can become convinced and protect yourself and loved ones. However, the list is long. Instead I’d like to focus on one more significant study here. At the end of this section I’ll provide a link for you to four years worth of research by the Environmental Working Group so you can see for yourself the mounting evidence about the dangers of using these non-stick cookwares.
Now, the last study has to do with heat, Teflon, and birds. In fact, these studies are rather well known now so you may have already heard about them.
Teflon, Heat, and Birds
When Teflon is heated up for just a few minutes dangerous chemicals are emitted into the air. According to tests conducted by the EWG, when Teflon coated pans are heated up for just two to five minutes on a kitchen stovetop this occurs. The chemical that is released when this happens has been linked to thousands of bird deaths as well as human sickness.
According to EWG, scientists showed that a Teflon pan reaches 721 degrees Fahrenheit in just five minutes. DuPont’s own studies show that at just 680 degrees Fahrenheit, six dangerous gasses are released, two of which are known carcinogens. And in fact, when temperatures reach 1000 degrees Fahrenheit or more, PFIBs were released. PFIBs were used as a chemical warfare agent in World War II.
What these tests also show is that these pans easily can reach these temperatures through pre-heating or high heat settings. So rather than this occurring very rarely, if ever, as DuPont would have us believe, it probably occurs on a regular basis in kitchens across America.
So back to the birds. This ‘Teflon toxicosis,’ as the bird poisonings are called, resulted in rather torturous deaths for these poor birds. Their lungs hemorrhage and fill with fluid which then causes suffocation–simply from the inhalation of these chemicals when a Teflon pan is heated.
These same fumes can also make people sick. A sickness called ‘polymer fume fever’ can occur and is acknowledged even by DuPont that it has the same symptoms as the flu.
Here’s that link I promised so you can learn more about the dangers of Teflon.
Choosing Safe Kitchen Cookware Wisely
After reading all the facts above it may not seem so challenging to heat up a little butter or coconut oil on your pan, huh? In fact, it’s that easy to protect yourself and your family from these serious health dangers of Teflon coated pans as well as other non-stick pots and pans.
Opt for any of the following types of kitchen cookware, add a little butter or healthy coconut oil and start cooking. You’ll get peace of mind knowing you’re protecting your loved ones from one more of the many dangerous toxins in our environments today.
4 Safe Cookware Choices:
- Stainless steel
- Cast iron
- Glass bakeware
These tried and true kitchen cookware choices have stood the test of time. Sure you may have to pay a bit more attention for sticking, but in the long run it’s well worth it.
Environmental Working Group (2009)
Environmental Working Group (2005)
Environmental Working Group (2008)
Environmental Working Group (2003)