Cookware comes first when we think of kitchenware. And users of cookware must have one or two pots and pans that fall under the category of nonstick cookware. In fact, people love the nonstick feature in their cookware as it has made their cooking experience a pleasant one. There is not a single user of nonstick cookware that can negate this truth.
These days many cookware brands tend to claim in their advertisements that their nonstick cookware is free of PTFE, and PFOA. They do it because they want to gain an edge over their competitors whose cookware is not free of PTFE PFOA. It’s to be noted here that in 2006, PFOA became a much- talked-about issue both in and outside of the United States. The reason was the revelation of the adverse health effects of PFOA used in the nonstick coating, following some researches done by different research groups.
A hue and cry was raised worldwide when Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Dupont, the US giant and Teflon (PTFE) producer $ 16.5 million for hiding vital information on the toxicity and health danger of the coating in question for twenty long years, LA Times, February 14, 2006 issue reports.
PFOA free Ceramic Cookware:
Prior to that, EPA chalked out a program called 2010/2015 Stewardship Program in collaboration with eight major US companies, who manufacture and/ or import the hazardous chemical to use in the production of Teflon. An agreement was signed on January 25, 2006 with all the parties involved. A decision was made, according to the agreement, to reduce the use of the chemical by 95% by 2010 and eliminate totally by 2015, reports Washington Post, January 26, 2006 issue. Users of nonstick cookware should be familiar with these two terms PTFE, PFOA before they get to know about the potential health risks associated with them, if the nonstick coating used in their cookware is not free of those chemical compounds.
What is PTFE?
PTFE is an abbreviation, which stands for PolyTetraFluoroEthylene. It’s a Per Fluorinated Compound (PFC), a human-produced polymer, used in nonstick coating to make the surface of cookware slippery, and many other manufacturing and industrial causes. It’s also called Teflon, which is a Dupont trademark. PFC chemicals can pose health threats to humans, animals, and even to the environment.
PTFE in Cookware and Health Risks:
Generally, Teflon or PTFE itself is not harmful. However, it can pose threats to pet birds, human health and even environment, if cookware containing this chemical is overheated, badly scratched, chipped, or pitted. Death of pet bird has been reported due to toxic fumes emitted from overheated Teflon coated frying pan.
What is PFOA?
PFOA is an abbreviated form for PerFluoroOctanoic Acid. It’s an artificially made chemical, which is not an integral part of our environment. It’s a vital processing agent in the production of fluoropolymers, which is also known as ‘C8’.These substances are responsible for making coating for nonstick cookware and serving the purposes of stain and water resistance alongside helping industrial and manufacturing needs. Also some fluorotelomers may, accidentally, degrade to PFOA.
Health Risks PFOA in Cookware and:
PFOA is known to cause liver cancer, lower birth weight, weak immune system, and growth and developmental problems in laboratory animals in case of their heavy exposure to this chemical. This chemical has also been found in the blood of aquatic organisms and Arctic Polar Bear. A report published by Jama Pediatrics (Formerly Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine: September 1, 2010, Vol 164, No. 9) reveals, PFOA used in nonstick coating and water repellent fabrics has been found responsible for an overall increased cholesterol and specifically, LDL (the bad one) cholesterol in children and teenagers. Retarded fetal development in pregnant women has also been attributed to the negative impact of this chemical.
Nonetheless Nonstick Cookware?
Despite all the odds and risks associated with the coating discussed so far, many of us will still go for nonstick cookware considering its comfort and convenience, undoubtedly. Especially, professional cooks and chefs love this cookware as food doesn’t stick to its surface and they are easy to clean. The nonstick coating saves them a plenty of time. The good news is now-a-days, a very special kind of cookware is available that has a ceramic coating, not the potentially dangerous nonstick coating. This cookware is commonly known as ceramic cookware. In a broader sense, nonstick cookware can be categorized into two types, such as: 1. Teflon or PTFE cookware 2. Ceramic cookware.
Why is Ceramic Cookware a Better Choice?
Ceramic cookware is considered to be safe and eco-friendly as it doesn’t contain any PTFE or PFOA. Coatings used in this cookware have more heat conductivity and you can even cook in this kind of cookware at a higher temperature. Some people claim that ceramic coated cookware is not durable as compared to Teflon. In our opinion, it depends on the use and maintenance of the cookware. If you don’t cook with oil, your cookware will last longer. If you are interested in 100% PFOA free cookware sets, you may like to read about our recently reviewed ceramic coated Bialetti Aeternum 8-piece cookware set or stone coated Stoneline Nonstick Stone Cookware Set. Both sets are certified to be safe nonstick cookware.
Last but not the least:
None should panic about the carcinogenic (likely to cause cancer) effects of PFOA.US Environmental Protection Agency have not confirmed it yet. And the matter is still under their investigation. Therefore, you may unhesitatingly, continue to use your Teflon nonstick cookware if you are able to adhere to some cautionary measures like cooking on low to medium temperatures. The last thing to be noted here is that overheating a cookware, regardless of its construction or brand, doesn’t give you a pleasant cooking result. Unfortunately, many users of cookware tend to forget that this tip is an integral part of the maintenance of their cookware.
Source: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/pubs/stewardship/preports7.html (last updated 1/15/2015)
January 16, 2015 — EPA released companies’ progress reports for 2013 and 2104 to meet phase-out goals of the 2010/2015 PFOA Stewardship Program.