Are Nonstick Pans Actually Safe to Use?

Are Nonstick Pans Actually Safe to Use?

There is no doubt that nonstick pans are really useful in the kitchen. They are able to make delicious food without making a huge mess, allowing for easy cleaning at the end of the day.

However, are they actually safe or is that special coating that’s been making your life easier bad for you?

Well, it’s not exactly inherently damaging to anyone’s health but you still should learn a thing or two before handling a nonstick pan.

The coating is known as Teflon because of this famous nonstick brand name but the substance itself is a chemical named polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE and it is not a health hazard in itself since it’s inert, therefore not able to react with anything, including the human body.

However, there are quite a few related chemicals that are slightly more dangerous for you, the one people are mostly worried about being perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA.

This substance was used by manufacturers in the early 2000s but has been fully phased out for almost a decade.

It can cause “polymer fume fever” if you breathe in a large amount of fumes.

However, it’s not hard to avoid it as known cases include industrial workers and one person who was taking a nap and managed to burn off almost the entire coating of their pan unintentionally.

When it does happen, the symptoms are not terribly dangerous either.

They are similar to flu symptoms and patients tend to recover in a matter of hours.

In other words, it really doesn’t seem like people are putting their health in any danger by using nonstick pans.

According to the American Cancer Society, “nonstick cookware is not a significant source of PFOA exposure.”

The organization also mentioned that neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the World Health Organization has determined whether or not PFOAs pose a risk of cancer.

All in all, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a chemical related to the chemicals used for the nonstick pans’ coating that could be harmful to humans, but at this point, the dangers are not clear when used in regular cooking.

So, to try and avoid that risk, make sure not to overheat your pan.

This is because, while PFOA is no longer used in the manufacturing process, it is a substance that can still be produced whenever the PTFE coating breaks down, something that may occur when the pan is heated way more than the average recommended cooking temperature.

If you’re not sure what the limit is, check the label when you buy a nonstick pan – usually, it’s around 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

You should also avoid scratching the coating as much as possible as it can make releasing chemicals when it’s heated more likely.

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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