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Is Teflon Safe?

Is Teflon Safe?Teflon must have seemed like a dream for a 60s  housewife who got stuck scrubbing pots and pans by hand.  Developed by Dupont in the 1930s, Teflon has been a staple in kitchens ever since it was released in 1961.  However, in recent years there has been cause for concern about the use of Teflon.

The chemical used to make Teflon is called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.  In 2006, an EPA advisory board of 17 scientists unanimously recommended that PFOA be labeled a "likely carcinogen" (carcinogens cause cancer) in humans.  Uh oh...

The EPA requested that DuPont and other companies that use PFOA in manufacturing processes to cease using it. DuPont agreed to ensure that by the chemical would not be released into the environment from its manufacturing plants by 2015, but DuPont did not agree to stop making Teflon or stop using Teflon at all. They claim to be looking for a way to make Teflon without using PFOA, but they also say that there is no risk in using Teflon pans.  The EPA even agrees. 

However, when high temperatures are reached, Teflon is known to give off a whopping FIFTEEN types of toxic particles and gases. These chemicals are poison to birds and in humans they can cause headaches, chills, backache, and fever.    This is called polymer fume fever or fluoropolymer fever, but can also be referred to as Teflon flu.

DuPont has even admitted that these things can happen!  They say that it doesn't happen when Teflon is used normally, only when it reaches high temperatures.

Even though the EPA says there's no risk in using Teflon pans, I find this information really disturbing and I think they should be avoided.  There is still a lot more research to be done on the safety of Teflon.

Some alternatives to Teflon pans are glass, Pyrex, ceramic, and cast iron.  Stainless steel isn't a great option because aluminum can leach into your food.

If you still want to hang on to your Teflon pots and pans, here's how to use them safely:

- Don't let the pan get too hot. Make sure temperatures do not get hotter than 450 degrees, and don't leave your pans unattended while on the burner.
- Don’t use metal utensils on nonstick cookware because it scan scratch the surface. 
- Don't use Brillo Pads or other steel wool to wash your Teflon pans.  Use nonabrasive sponges.
-  Keep your pet birds out of the kitchen.

Comments

Why use them at all?

It seems idiotic to use teflon when it's known that it's ingredient could be a danger. Many of the households I've seen the pans in store them in a cabinet with other pans. They are usually chipped up and used anyway because they are stored with so many other metal objects and the stuff scratches off easy.

And the temparature a stove gets is what? 300F ? Yea right! I'm getting rid of my Teflon cook ware tonight.

teflon

WOW.. I have heard a lot about teflon as an unsafe kitchen utensil but I didn't have the idea that it is too dangerous. Thanks for your post! Now I know.

I have heard alot of things

I have heard alot of things about teflon and how it isn't safe.

Teflon

Krissy - I applaud the idea of creating a safer home, and because there's so much misinformation out there about Teflon, I'm not surprised that you are concerned. I'm a representative of DuPont though, and hope you'll let me share some information with you and your readers, so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

In regards to PFOA and cancer - The weight of evidence gathered from a number of significant health studies continues to indicate to us that there is no health risk to the general public from exposure to PFOA. Additionally, no authoritative body has designated PFOA as a human carcinogen. The U.S. EPA stated that it is premature to conclude that PFOA causes cancer. For more information, please visit www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/pfoarisk.html. http://www.teflon.com/Teflon/teflonissafe and www.pfoa.dupont.com can provide you with additional information.

Appreciate that you're sharing info on how to use Teflon pans properly and safely as well. Thanks, Ross.

Thank You for Your Comments

Ross, Thank you for your comments concerning Teflon. We are interested in the green measures that DuPont may be taking in respect to green, safer alternatives in their varied manufacturing processes. Please e-mail me and let me know whom I might contact to talk to about your initiatives. Again, thank you for your well written response and we look forward to  hearing from you. Sean sean@keenforgreen.com

Teflon links

Hi Ross,

Thanks for sharing those informative links.  Personally, I still remain wary of Teflon, but perhaps the results of the ongoing EPA studies will change my mind.

Thanks again.

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