Dangers of Nonstick Cookware Can Be Avoided

Dangers of Nonstick Cookware Can Be Avoided

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A potent combination of a durable nonstick cooking surface and the latest metal alloys has been giving more traditional cast-iron and stainless steel serious competition lately. Who doesn’t want the ease of dishwasher-safe, high-performance, lighter-weight pans?

But as with most things, convenience comes with a price. Many nonstick cookware surfaces have the following health risks:

PFOA: Perfluorooctanoic acid is used in making many nonstick coatings like Teflon but is not actually included in the finished product. However, trace amounts of these potentially carcinogenic fumes are released when these pans are overheated to 500 degrees or above.

Cadmium: Although no longer such a widespread problem, some older and foreign-made enamel cookware is likely to contain toxic levels of this metal. Extreme poisoning symptoms include chills, fever, and muscle aches.

WearEver’s latest Pure Living Bakeware Collection eliminates these risks by using a ceramic coating which has the added benefit of being tough enough to withstand metal utensils. So no worries about scratching up this set after a couple uses.

Here’s a simple recipe for Apple Turnovers to get you started courtesy of WearEver:


2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (substitute extra-virgin olive oil)

One 17.25-ounce package frozen puff

1 cup brown sugar, packed

Pastry sheets, thawed


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use 2 large ungreased WearEver Cookie Sheets.

Combine the lemon and 4 cups water in a large bowl. Place the sliced apples in the water to keep them from browning.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Drain water from apples, and place them into the hot skillet. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Stir together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Pour into the skillet, and mix well. Cook for another minute, or until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat to cool slightly.

Unfold puff pastry sheets, and repair any cracks by pressing them back together. Trim each sheet into a square. Then cut each larger square into 4 smaller squares. Spoon apples onto the center of each square. Fold over from corner to corner into a triangle shape, and press edges together to seal. Place turnovers on a baking sheet, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake for 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until turnovers are puffed and lightly browned.

Nonstick pans are popular largely because cooking doesn’t require the use of oils or fats, which purportedly creates healthier meals. The price for this benefit may be steep, however, as nonstick cookware has been linked to dangerous toxins.

Research is varied regarding the exact dangers of using nonstick cookware. The EPA is consistently monitoring the use of nonstick cookware due to the chemicals that can be released during cooking, however, no specific guidelines have been released by the EPA regarding specific health threats. The chemicals PFOA and PTFE have been linked to significant health disorders however, the lines of these conditions in relation to nonstick cookware are still blurry.

What are the dangers of nonstick pans?

The dangers of nonstick cookware are the components used to make the pans nonstick. There are a variety of dangerous chemical bonds and toxins that can lead to serious health problems. What’s more, the chemicals used to create most nonstick surfaces could be considered carcinogens. To illustrate the seriousness of this possibility, consider the fact that low levels of these chemicals have been found in 95 percent of Americans via blood test.

The concern from an environmental standpoint is the manufacturing plants where Teflon coated cookware is made. A professor at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine continues to study water supplies near a Teflon plant in Ohio, in an attempt to determine the effects on the people who may be exposed to the water. So far, his research has shown that Ohio residents who have been exposed to the contaminated water supply are affected 60 to 80 times more than residents in the general population.

What chemicals make nonstick pots and pans dangerous to humans and the environment?

Polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE): The component used in many nonstick cookware options is Teflon, which is made of polytetraflouroethylene (PTFE). When Teflon reaches high enough heat, it emits toxic gasses, which have been linked to cancer, reproductive damage and organ failure. According to researchers, when pans are heated to 600 degrees or higher, there are multiple toxins released in the environment.

Perfluorooctanooic acid (PFOA) (C-8): PFOA is one of the signature ingredients in nonstick Teflon cookware. This chemical has been under increasing scrutiny by the EPA due to the chemical having been found in the human bloodstream and in water supplies. The EPA is unsure of the exact dangers of being exposed to PFOA, but have considered the chemical-to-cancer relationship “suggestive.”

A study conducted by British researchers using blood samples from 4,000 adults gathered by the US Centers for Disease Control revealed troubling results. According to the study, individuals whose blood tested positive for the top 25 percent of PFOA stood twice as likely to develop thyroid disease as their counterparts in the lowest 50 percent did. Following these results, researchers have called out for further research into low-level exposure to PFOA in humans, such as through the use of nonstick cookware.

Safe alternatives to nonstick pans

What to use instead of Teflon pans? While nonstick pots and pans are the most common choice for convenience, there are suitable alternatives that are safer. Some of these non toxic alternatives include cast iron, ceramic, anodized aluminum and stainless steel. There are also nonstick options that are environmentally friendly, that are made without harmful chemicals.

Ecolution Hydrolon non-stick: Ecolution has created five lines of nonstick cookware that are made without PFOA. The nonstick coating is made from a water-based system that eliminates the harmful toxins released when standard nonstick pans heat up. These pans are tested for quality and durability, and are even dishwasher safe.

Eco-Logic by Beka: Eco-Logic has developed nonstick cookware designed to be environmentally and family friendly. These nonstick pans are free of both PFOA and PTFE. Eco-Logic pans has one of the larger selections of eco-friendly cookware, and offer a variety of accompanying accessories, also manufactured in an environmentally friendly way.

Ceramic: Ceramic nonstick pans have been garnering increasing levels of popularity. Ceramic pans were among the first labeled as “green” cookware, and are now being sold at many retailers alongside their Teflon counterparts. The increase in use of ceramic cookware has even caused researchers to include this variety in consumer surveys. Three popular brands of green ceramic cookware that are PTFE and PFOA free include Bialetti’s Aeternum, the Original GreenPan and Cuisinart’s GreenGourmet. Pros to using ceramic pans include scratch and stain resistance, and not holding food odors.

Stainless steel: Made with aluminum, copper and stainless steel, these pans are safe and effective, and often are reasonably priced.

Cast iron: Cast iron pans are virtually indestructible pans that are an excellent alternative for cookware needs. These pans heat slowly and evenly, helping to save money and energy, and they last longer than most pans. The only real impediment to using cast iron is that the pans must be regularly seasoned in order to properly cook without sticking or burning.

Safer nonstick cookware

Even though the EPA has not currently released health guidelines for humans, it is known that PFOA has been associated with tumors in laboratory animals. The EPA has since requested manufacturers of Teflon to develop safer ways to create their products.

There are two options for making cooking safer. First, if you do stick to your Teflon coated pans, ensuring that they are used properly is key. It’s important to maintain safe temperatures while cooking, to not allow an empty pan to heat up, and to keep pans abrasion free.

Second, consider switching to nonstick options that are proven to be safer for your health and the environment. Many of the alternatives to Teflon-coated pans are comparable in price and functionality. Additionally, thanks to environmentally minded manufacturers, there are healthier nonstick options available.


Most of us are pretty confident when it comes to identifying the types of food that we should eat and the types of food that we should avoid, yet despite our best efforts to maintain a wholesome lifestyle, there always seems to be something in our environment that is working against us. The tide of human modernity has inevitably drifted towards a convenience-based existence. This, in turn, has given rise to a unique scenario in which our bodies are now languishing under the heavy burden of toxic compounds that we absorb from various sources each day. Unfortunately, one of these sources in most twenty-first century households is cookware.


Out of all the different types of cookware available today, the most commonly used is PTFE-coated "non-stick" cookware which is also sometimes referred to as Teflon cookware. The most obvious benefit of this equipment is that it provides the capacity to cook any meal without the likelihood of having to scrape burnt remains off it afterward - an attractive proposition for convenience-minded consumers. In 2014, U.S. retail sales of non-stick cookware amounted to around 1.45 billion USD. With the average piece of non-stick cookware costing between $10-20 USD on Amazon.com, that figure boils down to somewhere between 70 - 150 million pieces of non-stick cookware being sold into American homes during 2014 alone. Extrapolate this data over a few decades, and you end up with a tremendous number of conventional non-stick cookware items in use across the United States.

So what's the issue with using non-stick cookware and why should it matter to you?


Fluropolymers such as polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) and substances containing polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAs) are commonly used to create conventional non-stick cooking surfaces. These materials are extremely toxic and highly resilient, both in relation to their interaction with the human body and also the wider environment. These compounds contain fluorinated chemicals which give rise to that slippery surface that we all enjoy cooking on. When exposed to heat, most non-stick cookware becomes a source of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is a long-chain chemical compound that has been linked to a frightening range of health problems including thyroid disease, infertility in women, organ damage and developmental and reproductive problems.

Interestingly, the US Environmental Protection Agency has also declared perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) to be "likely carcinogens", yet despite the warnings, these chemicals are still used in a wide array of household products. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered that roughly 98% of Americans now have traces of PFA’s or PFC's in their bodies.


There's clearly no argument as to whether conventional non-stick cookware has a negative impact on human health, so with that in mind, what are the alternatives?


Ceramic cookware is gaining popularity fast thanks to its ability to create a non-stick cooking surface while containing no traces of PTFE or PFOA.

Brands such as Neoflam are using the most advanced ceramic technology to produce durable and heat efficient non-stick coatings that are safer and more environmentally friendly than conventional non-stick cookware.


Companies like Solid Teknics are manufacturing some incredibly high quality cast iron products which have a myriad of advantages over conventional non-stick cookware.

Cast iron is extremely rugged, easy to clean, and if properly seasoned, it's also "non-stick" (minus the toxic cocktail of chemical compounds). Cooking with cast iron is a great way to experience many of the benefits that come with using non-stick cookware while also minimizing your exposure to harmful substances.


Glass isn't the most dynamic cooking material and it's somewhat limited in the styles of cooking that it can accommodate, however, for oven baked dishes there aren't many materials more safe and affordable than heatproof glass.

When choosing glassware for cooking, be sure to check that the glass is heatproof and of high quality construction. Pyrex has a great range of kitchen glassware for all sorts of different applications, including cooking.


Similar to ceramic, stonewear cooking equipment is a non-toxic alternative that usually involves a combination of crushed stone and a PTFE-free coating in order to achieve similar results to those of typical non-stick cookware.

Brands such as Stoneline, Swiss Diamond & Ozeri all provide good products in this range.


According to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG), in the 2-5 minutes that Teflon coated cookware coated is heating on a conventional hob, temperatures can exceed to the point that the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. At extremely high temperatures these coatings can release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens. When exposed to fumes of heated non-stick pans the lungs of birds have been known to hemorrhage and fill up with fluid leading to suffocation , a condition called “Teflon Toxicosis”.

For humans an effect called “polymer fume fever” has been acknowledged. This is said to be a temporary influenza-like syndrome, however, the long term effects of this exposure remain unknown. Additionally, when pans with these coatings get scratched during cooking, small amounts of plastic and leached aluminum cling to the food and are then eaten.

In 2005 s study by the Environmental Working Group in collaboration with Commonweal found perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA and a chemical found in teflon and a known carcinogen) in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. John Hopkins Medical Centre did a similar test in 2006 where PFOA was present in the umbilical cord blood of 99% of the 300 infants tested.

You can avoid exposures to the fumes from Teflon and other non-stick cookware by phasing out your use of these products.

What are the alternatives?

Cast iron – known for its durability and even heat distribution. Maintenance wise it can be a pain as it rusts easily and needs to be seasoned (sealed) with oil and fat to give a non stick finish. Iron can also seep into your food whilst cooking. Some people cite this as a health benefit, however, the jury is out on this for me.

Enamel coated cast iron – for those who like the feel and heat distribution properties of cast iron but dread the seasoning process, ceramic enameled cookware from Le Creuset or World Cuisine are a good choice. These surfaces are very durable, better at browning foods than Teflon non-stick coatings, and are dishwasher safe.

Glass – I remember my Nana using glass pots. Glass is inert and is therefore probably the safest material around. The two major advantages of glass cookware is that you can see the food you’re cooking and they can be easily transferred between the hob, oven, refrigerator and freezer. Another big advantage of glass pans is that they clean easily and can be put in the dishwasher. There is no need to worry about seasoning, worry about scratches, rusting or other damage. Chipping and cracking can be a problem, but only with very rough usage.

Stainless steel is a mixture of several different metals, including nickel, chromium and molybdenum, all of which can trickle into foods. However, unless your stainless steel cookware is dinged and pitted, the amount of metals likely to get into your food is negligible. Most chefs agree that stainless steel browns foods better than non-stick surfaces.

Hard anodized cookware – many health conscious cooks are turning to anodized aluminium cookware as a safer alternative. The electro-chemical anodizing process locks in the cookware’s base metal, aluminium, so that it can’t get into food, and makes for what many cooks consider an ideal non-stick and scratch-resistant cooking surface. If the surface becomes scratched your protection from the aluminium can not be guaranteed. There have been some studies that link absorption of aluminium to Alzheimer’s.

Dupont (makers of Teflon) are looking for a new material to substitute Teflon after being asked by the US federal government to eliminate any new emissions of the key Teflon chemical from its factories by 2010. My thoughts, beware of any new substitutes until proven safe.

Nonstick Cookware and PFOA

There are two issues here:

  • Whether PFOA is present in nonstick cookware
  • The emission of PFOA into the environment

DuPont and other chemical companies took action to ensure that emissions of PFOA were eliminated by 2014. DuPont completed phasing out PFOA in 2013. The chemical industry as a whole stopped producing and using PFOA in 2015.

While PFOA was used to bond the coating of nonstick cookware prior to 2013, DuPont claims this particular chemical is subsequently destroyed in the heating process in manufacturing, and not present in the finished nonstick surface.

Trace elements of PFOA were found, however, in one extreme test where the surfaces of the pans were ground up, but today’s nonstick coated pans are tougher than ever before and can withstand less careful handling than previous generations of nonstick cookware.

10 Ways to Ruin a Nonstick Pan

Nonstick coatings on cookware and bakeware provide for healthier cooking because they need less oil. But improper care can ruin the beautiful finish on nonstick pots or baking pans, causing foods to begin to stick and the finish to peel or chip off. It will also make cleaning your nonstick pots more difficult and reduce their lifespan.

Though some nonstick finishes are hardier than others, there is a limit to how much heat and basic lack of care that they can take. If you don't want to have to replace your nonstick pans and skillets, being proactive with care is an absolute must.

We listed the most common ways you can ruin a non-stick pan or skillet if proper care and maintenance aren't applied. Protect your non-stick cookware or bakeware investment by avoiding these mistakes and you will enjoy your non-stick pots and pans for many years.

Understand that nonstick pans do not last forever, as you would expect from quality stainless steel. Even with the best of care, they tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Dangers of non-stick cookware

More evidence has emerged regarding the dangers of Perflurooctanoic Acid (PFOA), which is used in the production of non-stick cookware and stain-resistant snack food packaging. PFOA is currently found in the bloodstream of 95 percent of American men, women, and children.

It’s been exactly 70 years since non-stick coating was first introduced, and we’re now reaping what was sowed — most Americans test positive for PFOA in their blood, which the EPA has just recently identified as a likely human carcinogen.

Why is Non-Stick Cookware so Bad For Your Health?

Non-stick cookware has become enormously popular because of its convenience factor foods don’t stick to the surface.

However, it has now been shown that once heated – which is bound to happen when cooking – non-stick pans will quickly reach temperatures at which toxic fumes are released.

The coating begins to break down and release toxins into the air at a temperature of only 446 degrees Fahrenheit.

After about three to five minutes of heating, when the pans reach 680 degrees, they release at least six toxic gasses, including:

  • Two carcinogens
  • Two global pollutants
  • MFA, a chemical deadly to humans at low doses

The leading non-stick cookware brand was found to reach 721°F in five minutes under the same conditions.

Now, if you heat your non-stick cookware to 1,000°F, a temperature that scientists from the leading non-stick cookware brand have measured from stovetop drip pans, the coatings will break down into a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWI “choking agent” phosgene gas.

That puts a whole new spin on “healthy home cooking,” doesn’t it?

In animal studies, PFOA (sometimes also referred to as C8), which is the chemical that makes Teflon-coated aluminum slippery and non-stick, were found to cause:

  • Serious changes in organs including the brain, prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys, showing toxicity.
  • Death of several rat pups that were exposed to PFOA.
  • Changes in the pituitary in female rats, at all doses. The pituitary controls growth, reproduction, and many metabolic functions. Changes in the size of the pituitary are considered an indication of toxicity.
  • An association with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests.
  • An increase in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers.

Other unrelated studies have also found evidence of birth defects in babies from PFOA-exposed workers. In 1981, two out of seven women who worked at a non-stick coating plant gave birth to babies with birth defects.

How Do You Detox From PFOA?

That’s one of the most unfortunate parts of this mess. You can’t — at least not quickly.

We now know that once PFOA is released into the environment, it doesn’t break down quickly and disappear. According to Tim Kropp, a toxicologist with the Environmental Working Group, even if a person exposed to PFOA cuts off all future exposure, it still takes up to 20 years for the body to get rid of that initial contamination.

Other research has shown that four years after exposure, PFOA blood levels were still only reduced by half.

How to Reduce Your ExposureNeedless to say, your best bet is to pay attention to the products you use, in particular when it comes to your cookware. According to Dr Mercola, the best choice out there and one that he uses, is a new high tech ceramic cookware. .Ceramic cookware is not only extremely durable and easy to clean (even the toughest cooked-on foods can be wiped away after soaking it in warm water), it is completely inert, which means it won’t release any harmful chemicals into your home or your food unlike other sets of cookware.

Glass cookware is also a very suitable alternative as is enamel or Le Creuset pans.

Other articles – Thyroid disease with human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)

Temporal changes in the levels of perfluorinated compounds in California women’s serum over the past 50 years

So all you cooks out there, female or male, young or old – ditch your non stick cook ware and go back to the old fashioned enamel, Le Creuset pans or glass cookware – much safer for you and your family.

Low Birth Weight in Infants

To add to the non-stick cookware dangers, a direct correlation between PFOA and low birth-weight has been found, affecting newborns around the globe. The full effects of C8 (further abbreviated name of PFOA) exposure went under study, under the lead of a Dr. Goldman of John Hopkins University. Though the results came to be conclusive about the low birth weight and other deformations found in infant children, the Teflon chemical still persists as the prime ingredient in non-stick surfaces.

Ditch the Non-Stick: Exposing The Toxic Dangers of Non-Stick Cookware

There’s nothing quite worse than diligently working in the kitchen to prepare a wondrous meal, only to have your foods stick to the pan. While there are many ways to alleviate this situation, such as spraying the pan with olive oil, many choose to forego this method by cooking with non-stick cookware. Although the concept of such cookware seems wonderful – being able to cook to your heart’s content without ever having to worry about sticky, burnt food bits – the reality of using such devices is far more dangerous and toxic than what manufacturers and promoters wish to divulge.

What is Non-Stick Cookware?

Before delving into the harsh realities of non-stick cookware, it’s imperative to understand what these cooking utensils are made of. The majority of non-stick cooking pans are manufactured out of steel and aluminium however, its the coating of polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, that gives these pans their non-stick benefits. Another commonly used chemical coating in such cooking devices is perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA. While at the surface, it may seem having a non-stick pan is the greatest innovation in modern cooking utensils however, the truth is far direr.

The Real Dangers of Non-Stick

The carcinogenic chemical used to prevent foods from sticking to pans is touted as being perfectly safe when used at lower temperatures however, several researchers have found as soon as the pan begins to heat, toxic fumes – similar to the toxic nerve gas used in WWII known as phosgene – is released into the air, and into your foods. This, along with up to six other toxic gases, begins to emit from the pan within five minutes of cooking. Along with the obvious dangers of breathing toxic fumes, research suggests prolonged use of such chemicals may support cancer cell development, flu-like symptoms (known as Teflon Flu or Polymer Fume Fever, among scientists) and even birth defects in pregnant women. As you can see, there’s a great price to pay for cleaning convenience.

  • Increased risk of liver cancer, testicular cancer, breast cancer and pancreatic cancer.
  • Low birth weight in newborns
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Abnormal thyroid hormone levels
  • Weakened immune system (a major concern for those with compromised immune systems)
  • Liver inflammation

Safer Alternatives to Traditional Non-Stick Pots and Pans

The aforementioned is only a brief overview of the real and serious dangers associated with non-stick cooking pans. Although avoiding non-stick pans may be difficult, there are several alternatives that produce similar non-stick results without the harmful effects of PFCs.

Perhaps the greatest alternative to cooking with a non-stick pan is to choose a 100 per cent stainless steel pan. The surface of stainless steel is extremely easy to clean with soap and water, and many professional chefs prefer this method of cooking as it gently browns foods without burning. Another effective alternative is also one of the most traditional forms of stovetop cooking – cast iron skillets. Referred to as naturally non-stick, this extremely durable cooking utensil can handle high temperatures and is extremely easy to clean although, many cooks prefer to “season” their cast iron skillets with the flavours of previously cooked meals.

Above all else, now is the time to think about the safety of you and your family (and even your pet birds, as the fumes from non-stick pans, can literally kill birds). As difficult as it may be, not all conveniences in life are worth your time, money and health. Skip the non-stick pans and reach new heights in your cooking abilities and overall health.

(Image from: Jean-Pierre)

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Your scratched nonstick pan isn't a health hazard

People love nonstick pans because they can whip up a meal using less oil, and cleaning them is way faster than scrubbing a traditional metal skillet. Teflon may be one of science's greatest contributions to cooking, but that doesn't mean people want it in their cooking. Thankfully, even if you do ingest flakes of Teflon that find their way into your food, it doesn't mean that the Grim Reaper is about to come knocking.

According to Scientific American, most makers of nonstick pans have phased out the use of PFOA in their Teflon, and any small bits that you have eaten will simply pass through your digestive tract. Also, even if you're using a super-old pan coated with PFOA-processed Teflon, there is still good news to be had. Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University's Office for Science & Society, says that when it comes toxins, the dosage is the key factor in poisoning (via The Los Angeles Times).

Schwartz even conducted an experiment with a heavily scratched cooking pan and analyzed its PFOA levels. The pan didn't produce anywhere near the PFOA levels that would be needed to cause an adverse effect in even a 20-pound child. "So the bottom line here is that exposure to PFOA from a Teflon coated pan is insignificant," Schwartz confirmed.

The only real downside to using a scratched up nonstick pan is that you may find its nonstick factor isn't quite as good as it used to be.