Sunday, November 8, 2009

The frightening reality of non-stick cookware

While we might all love our non-stick cookware, the environment clearly does not. Neither do our pet birds. When heated, polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, emits toxic fumes that can kill birds...reminiscent of the days when canaries were taken down into the mines to signal a problem with toxins. If the chemicals found in non-stick cookware, like Teflon™, can release fumes into our homes toxic enough to kill our birds, what are these fumes doing to our children? Are the toxins a danger to your baby as he sits in his high chair just a few feet away from the stove where you're cooking his dinner in your non-stick cookware? It makes me wonder.

In addition to PTFE, another dangerous chemical is used in the production of non-stick cookware. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is emitted into the environment during the manufacturing process of Teflon™ and other non-stick surfaces. Early in 2006, some individual scientific advisors to the EPA voted unanimously to classify PFOA as ‘a likely human carcinogen.’ One of the goals of the EPA is to eliminate all PFOAs in products within the next six years.

Teflon™ starts to decompose at high temperatures and the gases emitted can result in hallucinations and flu-like symptoms. A study in 23 states found that 96% of children tested had traces of PFOA in their systems. I don’t know about you, but I find that statistic extremely disturbing…although not surprising. After all, who doesn’t use non-stick cookware?

So, what’s the answer? The obvious answer is to stick to stainless steel, cast iron, glass or silicone cookware (no pun intended). But, thanks to a Belgium company, there is another solution.

GreenPan™ features greener and cleaner cookware lines using hard anodized aluminum exteriors for efficient heat conduction and durability and a non-stick interior called Thermolon. Thermolon is known to be as easy to use as Teflon™ minus the safety issues – i.e. there are no PTFEs or PFOAs involved. I like how GreenPan™ sums up its products on its website: “When green becomes the standard and not an option.”

With no risk of toxic fumes, GreenPan™ cookware is heat resistant up to 850 degrees F, versus the standard non-stick cookware resistance of only 500 degrees F, and sports a sophisticated design. This alternative is not only more eco-friendly, but it also offers the convenience factor than accompanies all non-stick cookware.

The dangers associated with PTFE include:

Pizza pans
Portable heaters
Heat lamps
Stove top burners
Crock pots
Hot air popcorn poppers
Self-cleaning ovens
Bread makers
Ironing board covers
Computer printers
Some light bulbs
Household cleaners
And more….

Check with the manufacturers if you’re unsure whether or not a product is coated with materials containing PTFE. There is definitely a danger here…experts have just not yet determined how big of one. If it says, ‘no stick’ you probably should steer clear. Unless, of course, you’re opting for the Belgium line, which can be found on HSN or other websites. Make the switch…your family will be healthier for it.

Keeping it healthy,



  1. For decades, I never bought non-stick cookware because I feared there were toxins in the coatings, once heated. Having the resources now to do my own extensive research, I finally purchased my 1st non-stick frypan earlier this month. If anyone is interested, Tefal® cookware has a Health & Environment Safe Non-stick Coating, with NO PFOA, NO LEAD/PLOMB, NO CADMIUM, Recyclable label. Rightly, or wrongly, I trust them more than other major brands I looked at (absolutely none of which mentioned anything whatsoever about toxins). Hope my two-cents worth may be useful to someone (especially those who don't have the resources that most of us do). Safe cooking, everyone.

  2. Further to the comment I just made, I should point out that I live in Sydney, Australia.

  3. Thank you for your input. I, personally, love my Green Pans, which are safe non-stick pans. I will have to look into Tefal.


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