Have a safe and fun New Year!
#175 - Stickin' It to the Pan
I've had this change on my list for a while, but I just finally got around to doing the research on non-stick teflon and I've got one thing to say: Holy Toxicity, Batman!
According to several online resources - including the Environmental Working Group, CorpWatch, the EPA and (here's the kicker) DuPont - the use of non-stick pans has the potential to release toxic fumes, including chemicals that are likely carcinogenic. Not good.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic chemical that was recently found by the EPA to be a "likely human carcinogen". PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacturing process for non-stick pans and is also released as toxic fumes when these pans are heated to temperatures exceeding 660 F.
Here's some groovy scientific info I found: PFOA is a stable, synthetic chemical, which, when produced, lasts 50-60 years. PFOA is both water and oil resistant. It is found in dolphins, trout, polar bears, humans and many other species throughout the world - from the Arctic to the South Pacific. PFOA can cross the placenta, which is why it is even found in the bloodstreams of newborn infants. Some adverse effects of PFOA found in laboratory animals studies include hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity, immunotoxicity, hormone imbalance and developmental toxicity.
The most interesting (and easiest to read) information I found came from an article called "Toxic Teflon", published by the Environmental Working Group, who also released another Teflon article just last week entitled "Chemical Used In Non-Stick Cookware Continues to Prove Its Toxicity".
I could go on and on about the oodles and oodles of information I found, but I think a brief synopsis of the findings might be more helpful: PFOA = Bad.
DuPont's argument (you knew they'd have one, didn't you?) is that the PFOA is not released unless the pan reaches a temperature of around 660F degrees. DuPont stated that this is well-above the scorch point of butter and most cooking oils, so we needn't worry about the toxic fumes since no one would ever scorch butter.
Riiiigggghhhhhht. I don't know about you, but I don't use a fancy egg timer or thermometer to tell me when my food is cooked. I use a smoke detector. That, my friend, is how you know dinner is done.
Not to mention that PFOA is used during the manufacturing process and so, by purchasing new Teflon products, we are encouraging the production of more PFOA. Wonder where that all ends up. Hmmmm..... Well, I doubt the previously mentioned dolphins, trout and polar bears are cooking with Teflon so you draw your own conclusions.
And so, in the name of saving the planet and my own lungs, I hereby say goodbye to my jumbo non-stick frying pan and my non-stick omelet pan. Sianara to my professional style wok. Au revoir to my griddle and so long to the waffle maker I pilfered from my sister's kitchen last year. *sniff* I shall miss you all.
NOT! I have my awesome, seasoned cast-iron skillets -- the ORIGINAL non-stick pan whose only side-effect would be anemia relief. And those babies work like a charm!
Now for all of you PFOA experts (and even you novices) I found a lot more information than I bargained for while researching Teflon pans. I found PFOA is found in many everyday items that we have in our homes. Honestly, I've simply run out of time to write it all up. I'll post more on this topic later. But if you just can't wait, a google search of "environmental hazards PFOA" will yield many more results than you would hope for.
Savings: Release of toxic chemicals into our waterways and our bodies.
Difficulty Level: 3 out of 5
This could be a difficult change if you didn't get a couple cast-iron skillets for Christmas like I did. But, I gotta tell ya, I picked up a nice 8" cast iron skillet at Goodwill last week for $5. Check your local thrift shop, garage sale, craigslist and freecycle for skillets before you buy new. Odds are you can get a nice set of pans on the cheap. And since these puppies are damn near indestructible, they should serve you for years and years and years to come. Oh, BTW, if you find a nasty-ass, rusty old cast-iron skillet at a garage sale, buy it! You can easily clean it, season it and use it!