You’ve given your Teflon pan a good life, but it’s time to say goodbye. This coating that seems to come standard with modern cookware originated from the best intentions, and it might have made your life easier in the past. It turns out, however, that this ease comes with a price: When Teflon reaches high temperatures, it emits a toxic gas that’s, well, toxic.
Read on to learn more about this gas’s possible side effects, as well as the precautions you can take to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
Why Is Teflon Bad for Me?
You’ve probably already deduced that the toxic fumes released by your Teflon pan aren’t particularly great for your body, but this might shock you: Those who are continually exposed actually develop symptoms that mimic the flu.
Teflon is part of a larger family of chemicals called perflourinated chemicals. Public health officials have found traces of these PFCs in nearly every American, and they’ve been linked to a slew of birth issues. They’ve noted smaller birth weights and overall sizes in newborns of moms who have traces of PFCs in their systems. Furthermore, they have been attributed to higher cholesterol and abnormal thyroid levels, as well as a decrease in the strength of one’s immune system and inflammation of the liver.
Why Is Teflon Bad for the Environment?
As previously mentioned, Teflon is part of a larger family of chemicals known as PFCs. PFCs can have detrimental effects on the Earth. For one, the manufacture of PFCs uses a boatload of valuable resources. Once they’re in action, PFCs don’t do much to offset this carbon footprint, either. Instead, they have the potential to accumulate in nature and spread their toxic properties.
The gases emitted are also toxic to birds. Make note of this if you have a pet that is near the fumes from your kitchen.
How Can I Fix This?
The best way to stop experiencing the effects of Teflon is to ditch your Teflon products altogether. Luckily, there are plenty of nontoxic cookware options on the market. Many Teflon deserters have turned to stainless steel products and have found much satisfaction, despite the fact that you might have to scrape and scrub a little to get them clean again. You could also try cast iron, which can stand an exorbitant amount of heat without releasing toxic gases.
Of course, not everyone can drop everything and replace their entire set of pots and pans. If you fall into this category, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways to ensure that you’re cooking as safely as possible with a kitchen cabinet full of Teflon.
The most important tip of all is to ensure that you’re not overheating your pots and pans. This means cooking everything at the lowest possible temperature. It also means avoiding preheating as much as possible. You should never place your Teflon-coated pans in ovens set to temperatures higher than 500 degrees. Finally, make sure that you always use the overhead fan over your stove. This device will do its best to blow away as many Teflon fumes as possible.
Now, go forth and forgo that chemical compound from now on. It’s time to live a healthier life, one culinary challenge at a time.
Photo: Public Domain Archive