When Prince Charming and I got married, we didn’t register for pots and pans. We each had our own apartments for years and were combining two households. When thinking about gifts, we asked for things we really wanted (like Fiesta Ware and a Kitchen-Aid mixer) or needed (like furniture and lamps). We thought we’d be content with things like my old set of steak knives and our hodge podge collection of nonstick pans.
We bought a couple new nonstick pans with some of our wedding money, and kept cooking with them for four years. Then we noticed all our pots and pans were starting to flake, and I heard that nonstick pans might be harmful. We decided to upgrade to stainless steel, and have never once looked back.I love our new (now six-year-old) pans, and I’m glad we made the investment and upgrade. Shortly after we made the big switch and learned how to cook with stainless steel, I got pregnant and started focusing on health and detoxifying our daily routines. The timing was perfect.
Since our stainless steel switch, a lot of people have asked if it’s safe to use nonstick pans. According to DuPont, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority, and French Food Safety Agency all deem nonstick cookware safe for cooking at normal temperatures.
But there’s a lot that needs to be explained about nonstick cookware.
Heating nonstick cookware above 500 degrees F will cause harm – DuPont says this includes the loss of nonstick ability and a discolored surface. Heating the cookware above 600 degrees F deteriorates the nonstick coating.While that’s what happens to the cookware, it also affects humans – and birds.
Teflon’s effects on humans
Teflon is made with the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical that builds up as a body burden in people. Scientific studies show that PFOA increases risks for developmental effects, breast cancer, testicular cancer, heart attacks, and stroke. The chemical is commonly found in blood and breast milk samples.There’s also a condition called the “Teflon-flu,” once exposed by ABC’s “20/20.” If a nonstick pan overheats, people breathing in the vapors may develop flu-like symptoms, including backaches, chills, headaches, and a temperature between 100 and 104 degrees.
Teflon’s effects on birds
Birds do not fare as well as humans, though – so be sure to keep Tweety out of the kitchen when you’re cooking. Teflon fumes are toxic to birds – both when Teflon gets overheated, and when nonstick cookware is used for the first time.
What can be done?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “In 2006, EPA and the eight major companies in the industry launched the 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program, in which companies committed to reduce global facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals by 95 percent by 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015.”Simply put, Teflon should be eliminated from new products by 2015.In the meantime, what can be done? First, ditch your nonstick pans. Fortunately there are plenty of cookware options that won’t kill your birds, give you the “flu,” or pollute your blood and breast milk. I’ll explain the safer products tomorrow.
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