Teflon is a versatile substance that is utilized as a coating agent in a variety of industries. For example, the NASA space program puts it on their ships and clothing, as well as on their astronauts’ suits.
However, it has a wide range of uses, including the production of industrial, medicinal, and automotive goods. Closer to home, Teflon coating is widely employed in the production of a wide range of household items.
Nonstick pans made of Teflon are commonplace in most people’s kitchens. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has approved them as safe food processing equipment
What is Teflon, and is it safe?
Teflon is the brand name for a synthetic chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene, which is used in a variety of home items ranging from wire coatings to fabric protection and even kitchen cookware and cookware accessories. According to critics, Teflon is hazardous to human health if swallowed or absorbed into the body, and it increases the risk of cancer and other ailments. Even though some studies have shown a correlation (more on that below), Teflon is still in use and is used to create cookware, the safety issues associated with Teflon have essentially faded away.
While the name Teflon may be connected with an increased risk of cancer, it is really a chemical called PFOA that was formerly employed in the production of Teflon that is to blame. A manmade perfluorochemical, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was discovered in the 1930s and has since been used in the production of fluoropolymer coatings and goods that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
What are PFOA’s negative effects?
It has been shown in several research that PFOA is associated with cancer, immunological weakness, and an array of other medical disorders. In addition, it has been proven to have an adverse effect on growth and development, as well as to harm the liver in experimental animals.
As recently as 2017, the chemical firm Dupont agreed to pay more than $670 million to resolve a lawsuit alleging that it was responsible for polluting drinking water with PFOA (also known as C-8) in the mid-Ohio Valley. The result of a prior class-action lawsuit in the same region from 2004 resulted in research that discovered PFOA was connected to cancer and reduced immune function, even at low dosages.
PFOA-containing Teflon has only recently been banned
PFOA has been linked to cancer, immunological weakness, and a slew of other medical conditions, according to a number of scientific studies. Furthermore, it has been shown to have a negative impact on growth and development, as well as to cause liver damage in experimental animals.
Recent settlements have included a more than $670 million payment by the chemical company Dupont to settle a lawsuit claiming that it was liable for contaminating drinking water with PFOA (also known as C-8) in the mid-Ohio Valley. The outcome of a preceding class-action case in the same area from 2004 led to studies that found PFOA was linked to cancer and impaired immune function, even at low doses. The findings were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2007.
Buy PFOA-free cookware
Because of the restriction, all nonstick cookware produced in the United States should be PFOA-free, although it’s always a good idea to double-check. When purchasing low-cost or off-brand cookware, use extreme caution, particularly if the product is not manufactured in a nation that has an active PFOA ban. PFOA is still manufactured in other countries, mostly in China, and is utilized in the production of consumer items.
There is good news in that PFOA-free nonstick cookware is reasonably priced, and there is thus no need to take a chance with anything that may contain the chemical. A 10-inch skillet from a reputable cookware manufacturer, such as Tramontina, would cost you roughly $20. All-Clad sells two-piece nonstick cookware set for $50 that is made of aluminum. Paying is definitely worth it for the sake of peace of mind.
Natural alternatives to nonstick cookware
In the event that you’re ready to give up Teflon and other chemical-based nonstick pots and pans entirely, there are a plethora of more natural nonstick options to consider.
Since the initial reports of Teflon contamination began to circulate, ceramic cookware has gained in favor as the most nonstick of the available options.
When properly seasoning and caring for cast iron cookware, a natural nonstick coating develops over time, making it an excellent choice for nonstick cookware. However, although cast iron will never achieve the nonstick properties of Teflon, it has several additional culinary advantages that make it worthwhile to spend a few more seconds washing in the sink after each use. The lodge is a well-established manufacturer of cast-iron cookware: You can get a 10-inch skillet for as low as $24 if you shop around.
Carbon steel cookware is still another choice that performs similarly to cast-iron cookware, but it is not nearly as heavy and is somewhat more costly than cast iron. Despite the fact that carbon steel hasn’t really taken off in the United States yet, it is a favorite of professional cooks, including yours myself. Made In, a new cookware firm creates an outstanding blue carbon steel skillet for roughly $80 that is worth every penny.