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Toxic Nonstick Cookware

Updated on March 31, 2016
Photos are my own unless otherwise credited. Article copyright 01/19/2008.
Photos are my own unless otherwise credited. Article copyright 01/19/2008.

Is your non-stick coated cookware harming your health?

The safety issues surrounding the toxic chemicals within Teflon nonstick cookware pots and pans was brought to my attention back around 1980. I had been watching a nightly newscast and a segment came on about large numbers of household birds dying without a visible reason.

The newscast was to warn consumers of the toxic chemical which was the reason why these household birds were dying so unexpectedly. A toxic gas known as Perfluoroctanoic Acid was being emitted from Teflon coated non-stick pans.

When the non-stick pans were set on a high heat the toxic gas was produced and it was this airborne poison which was killing household birds.

I walked into the kitchen and threw away every nonstick pan in my cupboard. Since that time I have used only the safer cookware choices of cast iron, stainless steel, and glass pots and pans.


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Perfluoroctanoic Acid in Non-Stick Pans

Individuals, agencies, Dupont, and even government agencies have known for years that coated pots and pans (nonstick cookware as it is more commonly referred to) contains a chemical which is a toxic cancer causing agent.

This toxic substance affects humans, and animals alike, and is released into the air when a non-stick cooking pan's Teflon coating breaks down at high temperatures. Birds being much smaller, and thus more sensitive to airborne poisoning, die on the spot from the ingestion of this toxic substance.

By simply cooking your supper at an extremely high temperature, such as that required to fry french fries, the very air around you and your family will be filled with a toxic cancer causing chemical.

The scariest chemical found in non-stick cookware pots and pans is perfluoroctanoic acid. It is also known in the scientific world as "C-8" or chemical 8. This common chemical composition used to bind the non-stick coating to the pan in non-stick cookware has been linked to cancer and birth defects in humans. The government has regulated that this chemical be eliminated from products involved in the human consumption of food by the year 2015, but until that time it is still present in your non-stick cookware pots and pans, and still poisoning the air in your home.

This toxic poison has been spread so widely in our homes that it is estimated by health agencies that as many as nine out of every ten people now carry some degree of this toxic chemical within them. What will this do to our children as they age? Is there a link between current cancer deaths and this chemical poisoning.

So what material are you cooking your meal in?

Copper cookware displayed on the wall.
Copper cookware displayed on the wall. | Source

The Facts On Nonstick Cookware:

The first Teflon products were produced, marketed, and sold by Dupont in 1946. Awareness of safety problems with the toxicity of non-stick cookware pots and pans began showing up over thirty years ago.

Dupont has received heavy fines for covering up data on the toxic of perflouroctanoic acid, and its hazardous effects on human health, when used in cookware or other products involving food consumption.

In 2003 The "Environmental Working Group" reported on the toxicity of nonstick cookware pots and pans. The Environmental Working Group's report concluded that a single pan could release as many as 15 toxic chemicals, 2 of which are carcinogenics, into the air per use.

A strange twist to the acceptability of non-stick cookware pots and pans and their toxic elements is the fact that these non-stick utensils have been built up as being a health conscious choice because they help to reduce the amount of fats and oil in cooking. George Bush in 1990 presented Dupont with the National Medal of Technology "for the company's pioneering role in the development and commercialization of man-made polymers over the last half century" of which Teflon was listed.

There are safer alternatives than Teflon non-stick coated cookware:

Stainless steel, cast iron, glass, and copper cookware pots and pans are all much safer cookware choices for your home. Make a healthier choice in your cookware to protect the health of your family.

Cast iron has excellent heat retention and is basically non-toxic. A well seasoned pan will also develop a virtually non-stick surface with proper use and treatment, and cast iron's non-stick ability tends to improve with the age of the pan. Cast Iron cookware does leach iron into food but this is generally a health benefit rather than a health detriment.

Our bodies require iron on a daily basis, regularly cooking with cast iron, will provide approximately just less than 20% of our daily iron needs. The only people who should be affected by this degree of iron intake would be individuals who suffer from iron issues. People who have iron deficiencies rather than suffering ill effects would actually benefit from the use of cast iron cookware.

Cast Iron cookware pots and pans are a safer alternative to using non-stick pots and pans.

Safety Issues With Older or Imported Cookware and Dishes.

Canada and the U.S.A. now have strict production standards in place for all food related products. Products marketed in these countries are deemed safe and acceptable for human use.

However it is important to note that older products did not have to comply with these regulations so you may still have older cookware in your cupboards that do not meet with today's higher health standards.

Products that are brought into the country as personal effects by immigrants from neighboring countries also may not meet current health standards. So there are still quite a lot of glass or steel cooking and serving dishes out there which do not comply with the stricter health standards of today.

When choosing your cookware take these exceptions into account. That old glass baking dish of grandma's might look beautiful, but it could also contain and leach high concentrations of lead into the food that you are feeding your family.

Whatever your choices in cookware, select the safest pots, pans, and baking dishes for your family and the environment. Choose cookware pots and pans that are made of cast iron, glass, or stainless steel. Toss out, or recycle, your coated nonstick pots and pans.

Are you concerned about the safety of your cookware?

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    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 8 years ago from USA

      This is information that REALLY needs to get out! Thanks for your service to others! 5 Stars for you from a fellow Anything Food Group member!

    • RolandTumble profile image

      RolandTumble 8 years ago

      We have a bird in our house, and don't use any non-stick cookware. Thanks for making this lens!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 8 years ago

      We switched to stainless and cast iron years ago, and I'm much happier with it! Thanks for your work on this important topic. Please consider adding this lens to the new Squidoo group Real Food, Real Living (squidoo.com/groups/realfood). 5*****

    • singaporehosting profile image

      singaporehosting 8 years ago

      In this case I rather have those cookware that stuck all the food, at least it is safer!

    • sharioleary profile image

      Shari O'Leary 8 years ago from Minnesota

      I had read something about "non-stick" pans being dangerous to birds, but I didn't know they were dangerous to us too. Thanks for the info!

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      Who would ever think that something as seemingly harmless as cookware can actually be hazardous to our health? Sure is scary to hear that 9 out of 10 people are carrying the toxin. thanks for more valuable information.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 6 years ago

      Hmmm... I've been enjoying the non-stick fry pan I inherited from my mom, but it looks like it'll be healthier to bring the iron pan back out. Thanks for the info.

    • Kstewart22 profile image

      Kstewart22 6 years ago

      Great lens! Thanks for listing your sources, too.

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      So important

    • glenbrook profile image

      glenbrook 6 years ago

      My wife got rid of most of our non-stick shortly after we got married. Now we have a mix of stainless and cast iron. I don't really like the stainless steel, it's a pain to clean compared to the cast iron. Our cast iron cookware is Lodge Logic and very nice, but I've been on a nostalgia kick lately so I'm looking for some vintage cast iron cookware. The nice thing about cast iron is it last forever if you take care of it.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @glenbrook: Your wife was very wise to chuck out the non-stick pots and pans - She must have known how toxic they are. I am a big fan of cast iron too and am constantly searching garage sales and thrift stores for them.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @MargoPArrowsmith: Yes, we don't realize how many toxins exist in our homes and who would suspect that it was hidden in a teflon coated pan that is supposed to be a healthier cooking option.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @BarbaraCasey: I know how you feel. When I first discovered the non-stick teflon pans it was because I had won one at a staff Christmas party. I thought it was great until I saw that news cast a few years later on the toxicity of the teflon non-stick coated cookware. In the garbage went my pots, pans, and bakeware.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @sharioleary: The miners used to take a canary down into the tunnels with them. If the canary died then they knew that they were next and they got the h-ll out of the mine. I guess that same advice applies to us in the home. If the toxic chemicals in a surface coated frying pan will kill a little bird then it will also poison us.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      @tandemonimom lm: Thank you for stopping by tandmonimom. I am glad that you also switched over to stainless steel and cast iron frying pans. I cannot believe that the governments knew about this issue and yet gave Dupont till 2015 to stop putting the toxic chemicals into their cookware pots and pans. That is just crazy.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      An Most Excellent Lens! I threw out all of my nonstick cookware years ago too. I use stainless steel and honestly, I have gotten so accustomed to keeping those little cleaning pads around for them that I don't even give much thought to that little additional time during clean up. I always hand washed my pots and pans anyway. I would rather do a little extra work than to slowly poison my children and my husband.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 6 years ago from Washington KS

      We use cast iron for much of our cooking. I never had much luck with stainless steel pans. Maybe I just don't know how to use it cause everything sticks to stainless steel.

      I've been trying to find info on soapstone pans, but having little luck.

      Excellent lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is such an informative lens. A lot of people may still be not aware that some non-stick pans are toxic. Thanks so much for sharing this great lens. I will make sure that some of my friends be able to read about this. Great Job!

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 6 years ago

      I think this lens is a "must to read" for everyone who is cooking him/herself or even just has those products in their home... Very important info, that need to be shared with others! Thumbs up!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This reminds me or the canaries in the coal mines, if the birds die...its just not safe for humans either. I prefer using cast iron and have always wondered about those nonstick surfaces.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for this very informative lens on a very important subject. There is much in terms of a lifestyle that we need to change. Convenience seems to have taken over healthy and safety. Blessings! :)

    • APackageAtTheDoor profile image

      APackageAtTheDoor 5 years ago

      Very informative lens. Thanks!

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens. If it is potentially carcinogenic - and we can make a choice to not be around it - we should. Blessed!

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Yes.. that non-stick stuff is definitely a problem, also when the coating comes off, you have aluminum, which is also a problem... I have just invested in those expensive ceramic pans and pots, that are supposed to be safe.. we will see :) Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I have to become conscious on what I am using now. It is strange that I see non-stick cookware everywhere in abundance, why are these utensils not yet banned?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Returning with angel dust for this important information. We just seem to be doing ourselves in with products we use, let's cook safely!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      If this is such a big deal then why is the government waiting until 2015 to take these off shelves? Shouldn't they be gone sooner? If it was first noticed in 1983 then why wait this long to take action and remove them? I'm not ranting about you, ladymermaid, I'm just wondering why keep it around.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I really wish I knew because from all that I have read this stuff is pure poison.

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 4 years ago

      I had no idea... Threw out a non stick fry pan today (because the handle fell off!) and was off to buy a replacement.. change of plan I think. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have 2-3 skillets that have peeling teflon on them! Not only have we breathed the fumes, but we've probably eaten some of the stuff!! Lovely. Thanks for the info.! They're going in the trash. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Is there anything on using Magnalite pots or those silicone cupcake holders? Am I safe, there?

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      We don't have non-stick pots but am not sure of the pan here in our hotel. I better find out.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @anonymous: I wonder about those too but I have not done any research on them. I personally stick with cast iron, steel, copper, and glass pans.

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 3 years ago

      I think ceramic-coated pans should be safe too?

    • Lady Lorelei profile image
      Author

      Lorelei Cohen 3 years ago from Canada

      @Sundaycoffee: Yes I would think so too as they are like a glass glazed over the pan. It is the chemicals that bind in nonstick cookware which are the problem. They are unbelievably dangerous and I have no idea why companies were allowed to continue producing it and especially in food related products. Crazy.

    • Sara2901 profile image

      Sara2901 3 years ago

      I have a rice cooker with non-stick coating. I stopped using it since I came to know about potential harm in non-stick cookware. Does anyone know what can be done with older cookware? Can they be recycled instead of trashing?

    • FanfrelucheHubs profile image

      Nathalie Roy 3 years ago from France (Canadian expat)

      cast iron and stainless steel for me and nothing that is made in China

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