Despite all of the well-publicized benefits of cast iron, many people will still be attracted to a modern, lightweight, low cost, non-stick surface.
That’s fine, as long as you’re making an informed choice. There has been some controversy building around the ingestion of some of the chemicals used in the manufacture of non-stick pans.
The most widely known type of non-stick surface is Teflon. However, Teflon is not a substance, but a brand name for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is classified as a manmade chemical.
Teflon is made using Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), another manmade substance. Most people have low levels of PFOA in their bloodstream, but at a level that is not widely thought to cause harm.
For years, there have been concerns about people experiencing elevated levels of PFOA, thought to be from contaminated water or industrial exposure. The chemical stays present in the body for long periods of time, and although the long-term effects are not really known, there has been enough concern from the medical establishment for the World Health Organization, via the International Agency for Research on Cancer, to say that PFOA is “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
At this point, it’s important to remember that almost all of the PFOA present in Teflon is burned off during the manufacturing process, and is not thought to occur in any significant amounts in the finished product.