Nonstick pans have been an indispensable part of our kitchens since 1950s due to its convenience and ease of use. But apparently it comes at considerable health risk. If you can find the movie, Dark Water (2019, Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway), you should watch it. It tells the real-life story of Rob Bilott, the lawyer who took on chemical giant DuPont after discovering that the company was polluting drinking water with the harmful chemical called PFOA.
Have you ever heard of the so called “Forever Chemicals”? They are a group of synthetic (manmade) chemicals that will never breakdown, like… EVER. Some of the most well-known Forever Chemicals are PFOA and PTFE, which is used in the making of nonstick cookware, like Teflon. They are also used in other applications to keep food from sticking to packaging, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam that is more effective.
To give some perspective on the reach of these chemicals, we can cite a study in 2015 that suggested that PFOA is detected in 97% of the blood sample of respondents in USA. While researchers are still debating the relative danger of PFOA (2015), in the past, some studies PFOA have been correlated with cancers of the pancreas, liver, mammary gland, and testes (EPA, 2002; EPA, 2003).
Due to this controversy, since 2015, most manufacturers have abandoned the use of PFOA in making nonstick cookware, and claim that their nonstick pans are safer. But this is actually misleading, because most of them still use PTFE.
A recent study in Singapore with a sample of 1000 women have found that these chemicals have tendency to reduce fertility. Women with a higher level of the chemicals in their bloodstream were 40 per cent less likely to fall pregnant within a year and 34 per cent less likely to have a live birth within the year.
According to Tong Yen Wah, a National University of Singapore (NUS) associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, the danger from nonstick cookware chemicals come from several sources:
- If your nonstick pan has scratches. you create all these grooves, then you have more contact with these ‘forever chemicals’ — so more contact points mean more of the (chemical) release can happen.
- PTFE will start to degrade at around 260 C, and it will produce toxic chemicals that will cause the so called “Teflon Flu”. If heated up to 450 C, it can cause acute lung injury.
Bearing in mind all the above, @nyonyatoko and Pantry Magic decided that it would be best to our PM Family if we no longer sell nonstick cooking pans. On a more economic level, nonstick pans will mean that you will have to replace your pans every 1-3 years, which is not a very eco friendly decision. So, what are the alternatives? Let’s discuss this in the next article.