Today we have, Jakob Barry as our guest blogger.
While standing over your stove-top sautéing dinner consider this: the non-stick pan you are using may be harmful to your health!
True, department stores and manufacturers don’t make a practice of placing warnings on cookware but the unfortunate reality is the majority of standard non-stick pans emit toxic chemicals at high temperatures.
Non-stick is a coating composed of synthetic polymers that are members of the Perfluorochemical (PFC) family. It should be noted that PFCs are not just found in non-stick pans but in many products from carpets to water-repellent gear and pizza box coating. However, unlike reducing household allergens like mold or mildew, PFCs are made to last and are difficult to erase from the environment.
Regarding non-stick pans the polymers become dangerous under extreme heat (260 °C or 500 °F) as the chemical breaks down into a gaseous state, enters the air or food being prepared, and finds its way into our bodies. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even if PFC intake ceases completely it takes years to flush them out.
Since the first non-stick pans were marketed in the mid 20th century fumes from cooking with non-stick pans containing PFCs were known to kill household birds and cause a type of flu in people called “polymer fume fever.” Despite the incidents non-stick was not considered dangerous enough to ban.
However, the latest studies show high levels of PFCs in the blood of most Americans, a sign of widespread exposure. Although the findings are prompting manufacturers in recent years to begin phasing out polymers that release PFCs into the environment the following health concerns are believed to already be attributed to the chemical:
- Smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies
- Elevated cholesterol
- Liver damage
- Abnormal thyroid hormone levels
- Liver inflammation
- Weakened immune defense against disease
- Thyroid damage
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re worried about how you’ll ever cook again. Don’t fret, as the situation is not that dire and feasible options exist.
First, there are new eco-friendly companies producing pots and pans that are non-stick and non-toxic. They are sometimes pricey but are worth the investment.
Second, cookware made from other substances is easy to find and include:
- Copper: conducts heat well and has a high recycling rate.
- Stainless steel: A good heat conductor and 100% recyclable
- Aluminum: Conducts heat very well and is 100% recyclable.
- Cast Iron: Heavier and long-lasting, it takes longer to heat up but slow to cool. (Yes, some iron will enter cooked food but iron is an important nutrient so there’s little harm.)
Finally, if you are in a real bind and can’t afford to replace your old non-stick pans there are ways to manage. For example, remember that hazardous PFC fumes only seep out when the temperature reaches a certain point. Two ways to prevent this is don’t preheat the pan and try not to use anything bigger than a medium flame when preparing a meal.
Bottom line: Eventually, when the opportunity presents itself, replace the old kitchen ware with a healthy alternative.
About Author: Jakob Barry is a green living journalist for Networx.com. Networx.com helps homeowners save time, money and frustration by connecting them with home improvement professionals. From plumbers and roofers to carpenters and fencing contractors, Networx simplifies the process of locating a reliable professional.