Non stick cookware such as Teflon – have been shown to cause birth defects, adversely affect the immune system and disrupt thyroid function — one can naturally conclude cooking with non stick cookware utensils could be dangerous to your health.
Teflon and other non-stick coated cookware used in the cookware industry are made from either a silicone base or a fluorocarbon (P.T.F.E.) base.
Fluorocarbon coatings are applied in one or two layers, plus a “sealer” or topcoat. Heating fluorocarbons causes a gradual breakdown of the fluoropolymers into a variety of other chemical compounds, which are released into the air—these fumes have been shown to kill household birds—and this is not all.
DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, acknowledges that the fumes given off by non-stick coatings can also sicken people, in a condition called ‘polymer fume fever’, which can be erroneously diagnosed as the common flu.
No one has ever studied the incidence of illness among users of the billions of non-stick pots and pans sold around the world, or the long-term effects from the sickness. However, given the chemical cocktail which is Teflon, and the fact that it is toxic enough to kill birds, consider what it must do to something as small as the tiniest embryo.
If the fumes were not enough, once the Teflon coating becomes even lightly scratched, it flakes and is often combined with food during cooking. This means that these toxic compounds manage to gain free access into the body in ‘large quantities’, besides the toxic fumes.
According to a study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, non-stick pots and pans can reach 700 degrees Fahrenheit (370oC) in three to five minutes, releasing 15 harmful gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. Non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analogue of the WWII nerve gas, phosgene.
The dramatic part of the story when it comes to non stick cookware like Teflon is that it is used in so many household items and industries (some of which you may be completely unaware) that it is difficult, but not impossible, to reduce exposure.
Industrial uses for Teflon fluoropolymers includes the following areas: architectural, fabrics, automotive uses, cabling materials, food processing, pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing, and semiconductor manufacturing.
Products include industrial and medical tubing, films, chemical linings, coatings on electrical insulation, fabrics, metals, electronic data insulation and telecommunications. They can be found in many different products including:
- Automotive products;
- Cleaning products;
- Clothing, including kids;
- Computer accessories;
- Fashion accessories;
- Gardening products;
- Medical supplies;
- Miscellaneous household products;
- Music supplies;
- Personal care products;
- Pet supplies;
- Sporting and outdoor gear
Reduce your exposure to toxic Teflon by replacing non stick cookware & other household items
- Replace all non-stick cookware and equipment in your home with enamelled cast iron cookware and wooden/bamboo utensils;
- When you purchase furniture or carpet, decline optional treatments for stain and dirt resistance, and insist on products that have not been pre-treated with chemicals. Most of these chemical treatments contain fluoropolymers that might contaminate your home and family;
- Avoid buying clothing with labels that indicate it has been coated to repel water, stains, or dirt. Many of these coatings are fluoropolymers. By buying alternatives you will help shrink the fluoropolymer market and the associated global contamination;
- Minimise packaged food and greasy fast foods in your diet. These may be sold in containers that are coated with fluoropolymers to keep grease from soaking through the packaging. Fluoropolymers are used in a wide variety of containers, including French-fry boxes, pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags—luckily you will not be eating these foods during your preconception preparation. However, do be aware of other supposedly healthy products packaged in such containers.
- Mainly consume organic, fresh, unprocessed produce delivered in nature’s intended package—its own skin!
- Avoid buying cosmetics and other personal care products with the words ‘fluoro’ or ‘perfluoro’ on the ingredient list. Products that might contain fluoropolymers include lotions, pressed powders, nail polish, and shaving cream.