Teflon in pots and pans: A health hazard? - Homegrid

Teflon in pots and pans: A health hazard?

Category: Health/Wellness

Cookware with a non-stick coating, such as Teflon pans, is popular in many Portuguese kitchens. However, the use of such utensils can be associated with health risks due to the potential toxicity of Teflon.


What is Teflon?

Teflon is a synthetic polymer known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated to high temperatures, Teflon can release toxic gases and perfluorinated compounds, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which pose risks to human health.

PFOA is a highly persistent chemical, which means that it remains in the environment and in the human body for long periods.


Why is Teflon dangerous for your health?

Studies indicate that PFOA can cause a range of adverse health effects, including developmental problems, cancer (liver, pancreas and testicles, thyroid), thyroid disease and fertility problems.

Other Teflon-related compounds, such as perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), have also been linked to health problems, including developmental problems in children and heart disease.

Although the release of these compounds is minimised when Teflon-coated cookware is used correctly, prolonged use or heating Teflon to high temperatures (260 °C) can increase the risk of exposure to these dangerous chemicals. In addition, scratches or damage to the Teflon surface can increase the release of toxic compounds.


How to minimise the risks of Teflon in the kitchen?

Fortunately, there are several safe alternatives to Teflon-coated cookware. Stainless steel, cast iron or ceramic pans are popular and safe options. Although these pots and pans may require a little more oil or butter to prevent food from sticking, they are safe and offer excellent durability. In addition, cast iron and stainless steel pans have thermal properties that allow food to be cooked evenly and efficiently.

Other coating options include glass cookware, which is safe and easy to clean. What’s more, glass doesn’t react with acidic foods, which makes it a great choice for cooking dishes with sauces, particularly tomato sauces.

Ceramic-coated pans are also a good alternative, as they are safe, durable and easy to clean. What’s more, they have the added advantage of being naturally non-stick, without the use of chemicals.

Copper pans are another popular option for cooking, although they can be a little more expensive. Copper is an excellent conductor of heat, which means that food can be cooked evenly and efficiently. However, it is important to choose copper pans coated with a material that is safe to cook with, such as stainless steel, to avoid releasing toxic metals into the food.


How do you look after your kitchen utensils?

As well as choosing safe cookware, it’s important to use and care for it properly. Cast iron and ceramic cookware needs to be seasoned before first use and requires special care when washing. Stainless steel and glass cookware, on the other hand, is easy to clean and can be washed in the dishwasher or by hand.

When cooking with non-stick cookware, it is important not to overheat it. When heated above 260°C, Teflon-coated utensils can start to decompose and release toxic gases. Also, avoid scratching or damaging the non-stick coating when using metal utensils or scrubbing too hard when cleaning, as this can increase the release of toxic compounds. Opt for wooden or silicone utensils, for example.

Still, it’s important to remember that Teflon-related compounds are just one of the many toxic substances present in the environment. Exposure to these compounds can be minimised by choosing safe cookware and using it carefully and properly, but it can also be minimised through healthier lifestyle choices, such as choosing organic food and reducing exposure to chemicals in general.


Should we use Teflon utensils or not?

While the convenience of non-stick coated cookware is appealing, the potential health risk due to Teflon toxicity is a cause for concern.

Choosing safe alternatives such as stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic and glass cookware, using them properly and carefully, can help reduce exposure to these dangerous compounds.

By raising awareness and choosing safer options, you can maintain a safe and healthy kitchen for the whole family.


Source: https://www.medicare.pt/mais-saude/prevencao/teflon-panelas-frigideiras-perigo-para-a-saude