PFOA and PTFE Non-stick Frying Pan Health Risks

Teflon Health Risks, non-stick frying pan health risks

In 1954, the first Teflon-coated, non-stick frying pan was created and has gained popularity until recent studies have indicated serious non-stick frying pan health risks. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic solid compound composed of carbon and fluorine.  

It was discovered in 1938 and was then branded as Teflon to be used to coat pipes due to its lubricating, non-stick and non-reactive property.

PTFE is stable and nontoxic at lower temperatures, but it begins to deteriorate after the temperature of the cookware reaches about 260 °C (500 °F), and decomposes above 350 °C (662 °F).  

These degradation by-products are lethal for animal consumption and are harmful to the environment.  One of the by-products is Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a man-made chemical which was used in the process of making Teflon.  PFOA can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.  Studies in human have found that people with workplace exposure to PFOA have higher risks of bladder and kidney cancers.

Another health effect linked with Teflon is the potential release of dangerous fumes from Teflon coated frying pans that are overheated to temperatures between 300 °C and 450 °C.  When the Teflon on the coated frying pan is heated above 450 °C, the decomposition of PTFE releases fumes in the air that may cause acute lung injury.  

According to the American Cancer Society, these fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and fatal to birds.  In humans, chills, headaches, fevers, chest tightness, and mild cough may develop about 4 – 8 hours after exposure.

While the cancerous effects of Teflon remain controversial, it is recommended that consumers choose a safer and healthier cookware to reduce the risk of inhaling toxic particles when Teflon coated non-stick frying pans get too hot.  Consumers can also read the manufacturers’ labels carefully to understand properties of the cookware.


Non-stick Teflon Frying Pan Safety

The following are some tips to cook with Teflon non-stick frying pans to reduce the non-stick frying pan health risks:

  • Do not preheat the non-stick frying pan at high heat without any food on them. Empty frying pans can reach high temperatures fast. Heat at lower temperatures to cook your food safely.
  • Do not heat the non-stick frying pan in an oven greater than 500 degrees
  • Utilize an exhaust fan over the stove
  • Keep pet birds away from the stove where you cook your food. The fumes coming out from an overheated frying pan can cause a bird to die in seconds.
  • Avoid the self-cleaning operation with your oven. The oven cleans by heating to an extremely high temperature, which can release toxic fumes from non-stick frying pan interior oven parts
  • Cook with alternative cookware such as Stone Frying Pans.