Non-Stick Cookware Safety

by updated 2013/07/17

Last fall I questioned the safety of non-stick cookware. The article did not attract too much attention back then, but look for the issue to be much more in the new in coming weeks.

Iwatched a very interesting webcast from West Virginia University which unfortunately is no longer online. The streaming broadcast was a bit jumpy and at times a bit technical. Fortunately the Environmental Working Group has summarized this presentation nicely here:

These chemicals are present in all of the world ecosystems. They are present the blood of most humans, even those living in isolated areas. Concentrations increase as you go up the food chain. This suggests exposure from many sources other than cookware. Our pots and pans are just an easily recognized use and exposure risk. Potential human exposure comes from drinking water, food can coatings, food packaging, and fast food take out boxes. It is also used in less well know places like the stain repellent coatings on clothing and furniture, and the slippery coatings on dental floss.

Although it us used in non stick cookware coatings, some studies are inconclusive as to whether exposure from cookware use, when compared to other exposures, is a significant risk to humans. We get exposed from so many other sources, it is difficult to say what the biggest risks are. We can control cookware exposure, however, so I suggest you think about doing just that.

PFC’s have been shown to cause pup loss and preterm delivery in mice and rats. Mothers have been shown to pass it on to their offspring in utero. It is a suggestive or likely carcinogen which the manufacturers have pledged to eliminate from their products by 2015. California legislators are moving to ban the non-stick coatings from food packaging, saying the evidence is clear and alternatives are available, so why wait until 2015. Why not do what you can and ban them from your kitchen?

Like so many chemicals, PFC’s are thought to be more dangerous to children, infants, and pregnant women. There is also the risk of multiple chemical exposures. This is where exposure to a chemical like PFC is made more dangerous by exposure to other chemicals in our lives. In fact, some view our lives as being lived in a chemical soup, where we are daily exposed to many different chemicals. We really don’t know the cumulative effect of drinking pharmaceutical containing water from a plastic water bottle made with BPA, while eating eggs cooked in a non-stick pan, before putting on unregulated cosmetics, after sleeping in a bedroom with an off-gassing new carpet.

The list of our daily exposure to man-made chemicals is staggering. I think it is a testament to the resilience of the human body that we are as healthy as we are. Many of these exposures are not things we can easily control. Why not control the ones you can?

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Will Sig

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