This is Day 52 of the Green in 365 series!
Now that we’ve talked about getting the plastics and aluminum out of our, there’s one more important toxic chemical that we should work to remove from our kitchens as well: Teflon and cookware with non-stick surfaces.
The problem with Teflon and non-stick cooking surfaces is that they release toxic chemical fumes when heated on high heat. These fumes can lead to flu-like symptoms termed Teflon-Flu”, and can actually kill pet birds, which is a indicator of how toxic they are.
While the makers of Teflon state that cooking on high heat is an incorrect use of the cookware, a 2003 study by the EWG showed that on a typical stove top, a non-stick pan will begin releasing these toxic fumes after only 2-5 minutes of being heated. And haven’t we all cooked something hotter, or let a pan pre-heat longer, than we intended to?
Teflon is mainly made up of a chemical called perflurooctanoic acid (PFOA) also known as C-8, which is a likely human carcinogen and may also cause birth defects. And the manufacture of these chemicals is also extremely detrimental to the environment and wildlife, as well as the people who work in the Teflon plants.
Also, we’ve all seen non-stick coating get scratched or begin to peel over time, and those pieces of Teflon can get into our food when cooking. Although the EPA states that eating Teflon does not have any adverse health effects, I’m really not sure I believe them, and I’m not willing to take that chance.
All of these are important reasons to get the non-stick pots, pans, and skillets out of your kitchen and replace them with safer cooking materials!
I realize if you have cupboards full of non-stick pots and pans you use on a daily basis, that it can be overwhelming, and cost prohibitive, to just overhaul all of your pots and pans. I really like Katie at Kitchen Stewardships baby steps approach to reducing her use of non-stick pans in her kitchen.
As for our family, I was fortunate to receive quality stainless steel pots, along with just two non-stick skillets for my college graduation. Over the last year I have acquired new-to-me stainless steel skillets (from my grandmother’s house), as well as a new stainless steel skillet and cast iron pan as gifts, to replace my non-stick skillets.
My griddle pan is still non-stick, and I’m working on finding a better replacement for that, but fortunately, it doesn’t get used very often, and I usually remember to only heat it to medium or lower.
My advice for phasing out non-stick cookware is to always be on the lookout for quality, safe cookware at garage sales, tag sales and thrift stores, you might be surprised what you will find. You could also ask for quality cookware for Christmas or birthday gifts, or watch for them on sale and combine with a coupon at stores like Kohls.
Were you aware of the dangers of Teflon? How have you removed non-stick cookware from your kitchen without breaking the bank?
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