Poison in our pans

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Main Question or Discussion Point

In two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year, according to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG).
In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes under the same test.
Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.

http://www.ewg.org/reports/toxicteflon/es.php [Broken]

House hold pet birds, are know to die of this. These particals don't vanish, they remain in our carpets and drapes. I just bought a non-stick pan, with a bird hazard on the lable, which caused me to look into this a bit more. If it kills birds, what is it doing to us?
While I don't normally use them for high heat{mostly eggs}, there have been more then a few times I've accidently heated them too much.:yuck: Now I think I will take it back to the store. Both my iron and my popcorn popper need to be trashed now too.:grumpy:





Some Products That Use Polytetraflouethylene
Heat lamps
Portable heaters
Sole plates on irons
Ironing board covers
Burners on stove tops
Drip pans for burners
Broiler pans
Griddles
Many cooking utensils
Woks
Waffle makers
Electric skillets
Deep fryers, crock pots,
Hot air popcorn poppers
Coffee makers
Bread makers
Non-stick rolling pins
Lollipop molds
Corkscrews
Never-Stick-Stainless Steel
Stockpots
Roasters
Non-stick gingerbread molds
Pizza pans
Tortilla presses
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Sounds to me like you only really have to worry about your pet birds, assuming they sit around the kitchen. Don't stir fry in teflon pans is my advice, not that you should need to anyway.

I'd be interested to see exactly what toxicity is considered safe for humans, and whether these pans usually exceed this when used in normal cooking.
 
  • #3
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Can't see that link while at work, but teflon is supposed to be stable to temperatures above 250degC. When actually cooking these temperatures are not reached, but if a pan were to get above that sort of temperature it can degrade and offgas.
 
  • #4
turbo
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My wife and I don't use non-stick pans for that reason. We have well-seasoned cast-iron frying pans and skillets and a large heavy steel wok that is also well-seasoned. Once you have a good glaze on the cooking surfaces, stuff tends not to stick, anyway. Our stock pots and kettles and pots are all stainless steel.
 
  • #5
ZapperZ
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I don't have any non-stick pots and pans. All of mine are either the Calphalon Commercial with the anodized surface, or Le Creuset, which are enameled cast iron. If one is making pan sauces, non-stick pans are useless because one does not have the brown bits and pieces sticking to the pan that are essential in making good sauces and gravies.

Zz.
 
  • #6
turbo
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If one is making pan sauces, non-stick pans are useless because one does not have the brown bits and pieces sticking to the pan that are essential in making good sauces and gravies.

Zz.
Many people in this open-a-can culture are blissfully unaware of the role of carmelization in producing delectable foods. Before I start adding liquid ingredients and seasonings to a New England boiled dinner, every surface of that roast (rubbed with salt and pepper) has been scorched, and the pan has a nice layer of carmelized juices that will find its way into the wine and water that the meat and vegetables will be simmered in. :tongue2: I learned to cook by working with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, and the old ways are the best.
 
  • #7
russ_watters
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700F??? If you are heating your pans to 700F, your principle safety concern is fire, not teflon fumes.
 
  • #8
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thats why you shouldn't use non stick pans at high heat and use metal utensils on them. everything these days can kill you. i stopped using deodorant since that too causes cancer.
 
  • #9
radou
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If it kills birds, what is it doing to us?
Are you for real? :tongue:
 
  • #10
Moonbear
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700F??? If you are heating your pans to 700F, your principle safety concern is fire, not teflon fumes.
I agree. I also can't think of any reason you'd want to use a non-stick pan to cook at high temperatures at all. As the whole point of using them is to NOT burn food to the pan, you generally would use them for lower temperature cooking. I have a couple teflon-coated pans, and I use them for cooking eggs or pancakes mostly. Most cooking oils have hit their smoke point by the time you reach 500 degrees, so you wouldn't even use that high of a heat to sear meats.

Generally, the only real risk is if you forget a pan on the stove, but as Russ points out, the house fire is the bigger danger of that sort of mistake.
 
  • #11
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Are you for real? :tongue:
Naa I'm just joking, I trust Dupont:eek:, with my life. They have a great history of environmentally friendly poisonings.
 
  • #12
If the teflon coating on my pan is going to statistically shorten my life span by half a year, I am willing to cope with it so that I can have good eggs every morning.

It is my understanding that teflon passes right through your body without absorption, although I don't know whether this is accurate. And temps above 700^ are very unlikely, so is this the only time we should worry? Is it safe otherwise?

I cook almost everything in a stainless steel pan/wok for stirfy, but sometimes use the non-stick for eggs.


I bet the stress from worrying too much about these things has more of an effect on peoples life span then teflon does. :tongue2: (I understand why people are concerned though, of course)
 
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  • #13
Moonbear
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Teflon itself isn't a risk...it's even commonly used in medical devices intended for implantation (i.e., stents in blood vessels, artificial joints). The gas released as teflon breaks down at high temperature is toxic, but so are the gases released by melting your aluminum pan at similar high temperatures. It's really not a household risk, because there's no reason for anyone to ever heat a pan that high of a temperature, and if you did manage to do that once, it would only be a single, low-dose exposure that wouldn't be much of a concern medically. Where it IS a risk is occupationally for those working in the plants manufacturing teflon and teflon-coated products. Those workers are routinely in the presence of the gases released during heating in the reaction process to get the teflon to stick to the surface it's being adhered to. There has also been concern about high levels of other reaction products winding up in the water supply near the plant.

This topic has previously been discussed in the biology forum, but I haven't looked it up to provide a link to the previous discussion. I suggest looking for that thread and reading it, especially the comments that were made by DocToxyn, who is a toxicologist, regarding toxicity risks (and if you find it, please post a link in this thread so others can see it too...it should be a year or two old).
 
  • #14
ZapperZ
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Teflon itself isn't a risk...it's even commonly used in medical devices intended for implantation (i.e., stents in blood vessels, artificial joints). The gas released as teflon breaks down at high temperature is toxic, but so are the gases released by melting your aluminum pan at similar high temperatures. It's really not a household risk, because there's no reason for anyone to ever heat a pan that high of a temperature, and if you did manage to do that once, it would only be a single, low-dose exposure that wouldn't be much of a concern medically. Where it IS a risk is occupationally for those working in the plants manufacturing teflon and teflon-coated products. Those workers are routinely in the presence of the gases released during heating in the reaction process to get the teflon to stick to the surface it's being adhered to. There has also been concern about high levels of other reaction products winding up in the water supply near the plant.

This topic has previously been discussed in the biology forum, but I haven't looked it up to provide a link to the previous discussion. I suggest looking for that thread and reading it, especially the comments that were made by DocToxyn, who is a toxicologist, regarding toxicity risks (and if you find it, please post a link in this thread so others can see it too...it should be a year or two old).
What about digesting such a thing?

Cheap pans with the teflon coating often flake off over time, especially if the user used metal utensils.

Zz.
 
  • #15
J77
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700F - what's that in proper money?

e2a: 371C - can a conventional gas-hob get to that temperature?
 
  • #16
Evo
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I melted an aluminum pan once. It was on an electric burner set on high. When I discovered it, there was no longer a pan, it melted and fell into the burner pan.

Aluminum has a melting point of 1,220 degrees F. I checked and a source said the aluminum is sometimes mixed with zinc which has a melting point of 785 F, so I'm wondering how hot that pan got to disintegrate that way.
 
  • #17
turbo
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I don't know how hot stove-tops get, in general, but I know that I have to throttle back the damper on the wood stove to keep the flue temperature from soaring past 600 deg F when I get a fire going.
 
  • #18
J77
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I searched on the web but couldn't find a temp figure for hobs - would still be interested if anyone's got some...
 
  • #19
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ummmm lol whats a hob?
 
  • #20
ummmm lol whats a hob?
A gas hob is what he means, it's a cooker, you make food on it:tongue2: :smile:
 
  • #21
J77
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A gas hob is what he means, it's a cooker, you make food on it:tongue2: :smile:
Heithens! :rolleyes:

:tongue: :wink: :biggrin:
 
  • #22
radou
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I bet the stress from worrying too much about these things has more of an effect on peoples life span then teflon does. :tongue2: (I understand why people are concerned though, of course)
No, no, I got it!! The stress causes a sophisticated chemical reaction with the tephlon, which makes tephlon highly toxic! Ta-da! :biggrin:
 
  • #23
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No, no, I got it!! The stress causes a sophisticated chemical reaction with the tephlon, which makes tephlon highly toxic! Ta-da! :biggrin:
However, to reduce risk caused by this teflon-stress product, build your overall strength by lifting full cast-iron pots.

Turbo, I'd love to own cast-iron, but I always assumed trying to lift a 10 qt cast-iron pot of stew would exhaust me to the point of not wanting to eat the stew :smile: . Is it not as heavy as I've been led to believe?
 
  • #24
turbo
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However, to reduce risk caused by this teflon-stress product, build your overall strength by lifting full cast-iron pots.

Turbo, I'd love to own cast-iron, but I always assumed trying to lift a 10 qt cast-iron pot of stew would exhaust me to the point of not wanting to eat the stew :smile: . Is it not as heavy as I've been led to believe?
Well, my wife and I are in our 50's and are not really large people and we have no problem handling our large cast-iron Dutch oven (lidded stew pot) frying pans, or skillets. My old 12" cast-iron frying pan is quite massive, but it is so nicely seasoned after all these years, and cooks so evenly, I can't imagine using anything else for big batches of stuff that need to be sauteed. My aunt gave it to me in 1969 as I was accumulating essential utensils to take to college, and it was a venerable old antique even then, that she had gotten from her aunt, IIR. I also managed to score a nice old baked bean pot that was only about a quart in capacity, for small batches. My mother had been holding onto it for years, but with the size of our family, such a small bean pot was an impractical novelty, at best. I put it to good use, though. When I headed off to college, I had all the essentials for a basic kitchen. Not a damned thing matched (except the cover to the bean pot and the cover to a 2-qt saucepan), but that's not the point - it didn't have to look like a Martha Stewart, as long as I had good tools. A couple of years later, I splurged and spent over $20 (on sale!) for a beautifully-balanced forged Sabatier 6" chef's knife. It got misplaced or lost in a move in the 80's and I have never found one that fits me as well.
 

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