If your family’s health and the health of the environment is important to you, you may wish to dispose of those Teflon pots and pans and use stainless steel or ceramic-coated pans instead. The US Environmental Protection Agency just put out the notice in February of 2006, that the chemical, perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is used to make the non-stick coating Teflon used on pots and pans and food packaging like microwave popcorn bags, is known to be linked to birth defects in animal studies and is likely to be a carcinogen. PFOA seems to be in the blood of most Americans, as found in studies that examined blood from American blood banks, and is likely to be in the blood of most of the rest of us as well. PFOA enters into our bodies very easily through the cooked food when the non-stick pan is either scratched, or when it is heated, (which is what we do with pans and popcorn bags!) Heated Teflon also releases toxic fumes which we inhale. These chemicals seem to have a very long half-life (1.5 years for males) and they remain in our bodies because our livers cannot find a way to get rid of them. And other chemical classes break down into PFOA, so even if PFOA were banned, we will be stuck with its effects for a very long time.
Not only are the chemicals released by heating Teflon toxic to humans, but research has shown that they also break down the ozone layer of our planet thereby contributing to global warming. Their persistence in the environment is a big problem. And other chemical classes break down into PFOA, so banning PFOA would not resolve this issue.
DuPont was fined many millions of dollars by the EPA a few months ago for hiding the toxicity of PFOA from the US government for 20 years. And they are currently taking out full page newspaper ads stating that Teflon pans are safe! Please understand that most companies are usually more interested in their bottom line than in your health. Don’t be duped into thinking otherwise. For more on the extremes some companies will go to to protect their bottom line despite serious health or environmental concerns, see the DVD The Corporation.
Now, I’m no cook, but my understanding is that the way to stop food from sticking in stainless steel or ceramic cookware is to heat the fat first, and then put in the food you are cooking. (Remember to use a stable fat for cooking, such as organic coconut oil, organic butter, organic ghee, or organic beef or chicken fat, as opposed to vegetable oils that are unstable and go rancid when heated.)
Dr. Granger, M, and Dr. Cory-Slechta D, EPA Science Advisory Board Draft Report Jan. 20, 2006.
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Butenhoff T et al. The reproductive toxicology of ammonium perfluorooctanoate in the rat Toxicology 196:95-116, 2004.
Mabury, Scott A. Thermolysis of fluoropolymers as potential source of halogenated organic acids in the environment Nature 412:321-324, July 19, 2001.
Palazzo MJ. 13-week dietary toxicity study with T-51180 ammonium perfluorooctanoate (CAS No. 3825-26-1) in male rats Hazelton Wisconsin, Inc. US EPA Ar226-0449, 1993.
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Copyright Vreni Gurd 2006