Over the years, the concerns about Teflon health risks are increasing. Sure, Teflon makes cooking convenient because the food won’t stick. Because of it, cooking food is easier and somewhat more fun. Cleaning the cookware is also easier because you won’t have to excessively scrub the surface. But the compound is under a serious investigation because it is suspected to be linked to many health problems and cases. So, what should you know about Teflon? Is it safe or should you avoid it?
Cooking isn’t exactly easy so it is a relief when you find cookware that can help to make the process easier. Nonstick coated cookware is popular and liked by homeowners because it is fun to use. You can use it for frying eggs, turning sausages, or flipping pancakes. The coated cookware is perfect for making delicate foods that may crumble and stick to the frying pan.
Despite the perks, such a coating is claimed to be dangerous. Teflon has sparked most of the most common controversy concerning the nonstick coating. Nonstick coating is often associated with cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other health issues. The problem with the coating is that they are made from polytetrafluoroethylene or known as the PTFE (the basic form of Teflon). It is basically a synthetic chemical from fluorine and carbon atoms. Teflon was first produced in 1930 with the result of nonstick, frictionless, and nonreactive surface. Any cookware with such a coating has convenient use. It is easy to clean and maintain. It is also easy to use because you only need a little oil to cook.
The problem starts to arise within the past decade where the nonstick cookware is suspected to be unsafe. There are some studies showing that PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic acid) is directly linked to some health issues – resulting from Teflon overheating activity. That’s why they are known as Teflon coating health risks. It is believed that PFOA is involved in the manufacturing process. This is one of the reasons why Teflon had to change its policy and manufacturing process in relation to the issue. The health issues associated with Teflon exposure are testicular cancer, low birth weight, infertility, liver disease, chronic kidney issue, and thyroid disorders.
The problem is that PFOA compounds were still used in Teflon production up to 2013. Today, most Teflon products are free of PFOA so the company is confident to claim that their products are completely safe. But then again, how can you be sure that you aren’t getting the old products before 2013? And even if you are buying the newer stuff, you can’t be 100% sure that the cookware is totally safe. How do you know that you won’t be exposed to the harmful leak, leach, or exposure?
Sure, Teflon is now a stable and safe compound but there are some healthy limits to it. For instance, if you heat the cookware above 300 degrees Celsius or above 570 degrees Fahrenheit, the coating will start to break down. When it happens, toxic chemicals will be free into the air. The action of inhaling these fine particles is dangerous and it may cause Teflon flu or Polymer Fume fever.
The ailment is called Teflon flu because it shows symptoms like flu, such as headache, body ache, fever, and chills. These Teflon health risks happen 4 hours to 10 hours after the exposure. If there is nothing serious about it, the condition will get better on its own within 12 hours to 48 hours. There are several cases where the side effects are more serious, such as lung damages.
But then again, the reported cases are the result of using the Teflon cookware in extreme periods and temperature too. These cases have at least being exposed for four hours (at least) and they are overcooking for more than 390 degrees Celsius (or 730 degrees Fahrenheit). From these example cases, you can see that over exposure for too long or too hot environment is the cause of the flu.
How to Minimize the Risks
In order to minimize Teflon health risks, there are several ways that you can do. First of all, you can always look for the safest nonstick cookware brands, such as GreenPan, Zwilling, and Scanpan. Zwilling, for instance, is a German company producing modern and durable nonstick cookware that is tough and clean. The price is higher but it is worth it. GreenPan is a higher-end name from Belgium that uses Thermolon that is claimed to be safer. Another cool thing about the product is that it involves green method to manufacture the products. And you can also check Cookware Ninja to find some safest non-stick cookware sets at a reasonable price.
You can also try these ways to minimize health risk
- Avoid cooking on high or even extreme heat. To play it safe, cook on low or medium heat. Don’t cook too long either. If you have to cook for more than an hour, then there is a problem with the recipe –not the cookware
- Never preheat the empty pan. When the pans are empty, it is possible to reach high temperatures quickly. You should include some liquid or food so the pans won’t reach the maximum heat.
- Replace the old cookware with the new one, especially if you see the coatings start to deteriorate. If you see signs of flaking, chipping, peeling, and scratches, then you need to immediately replace it.
- Use silicone, plastic, or wooden utensils. These utensils won’t scratch the surface of the cookware while metal ones can scratch and scruff it. If you use the utensils, you will prolong the cookware’s life.
- Ventilate the kitchen or install the exhaust fan. The kitchen should be well ventilated with big windows and good airflow. When you cook, open the windows or turn the exhaust fan. These conditions will clear up the fumes so they won’t accumulate in the kitchen.
- Always wash the cookware by hand. Wash and clean the cookware with warm and soapy water and a sponge. Don’t use a scouring pad or steel wool so you won’t scratch the surface.
You can always choose the safest nonstick cookware products although you can’t be 100% sure that they won’t cause any health problem. The best thing that you can do is to choose the safest products as well as doing the preventive ways to at least minimize or prevent Teflon health risks.