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Originally published July 23 2009

Beware Dangers in Teflon and Non-Stick Cookware

by Natalie June

(NaturalNews) It seems today that everyone is trying to market their product as "green". Consumers need to be aware, though, that just because their merchandise is labeled as "green" or "good for the environment," it does not mean that it actually is. A perfect example of this can be found in the cookware aisle. A pan that has a bamboo handle is made from some recycled materials and can be recycled after use, but it should not claim to be a "green" pan, especially when that pan is coated with a substance like Teflon. Not only can Teflon-coated and other non-stick cookware produce fumes that are highly toxic to birds, but it is clear that these products are also unhealthy for humans.

According to tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG), in the two to five minutes that cookware coated with Teflon is heating on a conventional stovetop, temperatures can exceed to the point that the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. At various temperatures these coatings can release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens. Birds` respiratory systems are sensitive to the fumes of heated non-stick pans. The lungs of exposed birds have been known to hemorrhage and fill up with fluid leading to suffocation, a condition called "Teflon Toxicosis." Most bird owners are unaware of this hazard.

For humans an effect called "polymer fume fever" has been acknowledged. This is said to be a temporary influenza-like syndrome, but it is still unknown what the long term effects of exposure might be. As if this was not bad enough, when the pans with these coatings get scratched during cooking, small amounts of plastic and leached aluminum cling to the food and then are ingested.

Toxic chemicals are also prevalent in the environment because of the use of these pans. A study done in 2005 by the Environmental Working Group in collaboration with Commonweal found perflourooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical found in such pans and a known carcinogen, in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. John Hopkins Medical Center did a similar test in 2006 where PFOA was present in the umbilical cord blood of 99% of the 300 infants tested.

There are many new pans on the market today that are considered safe, but research is necessary to figure out exactly what chemicals are present. Cast iron pans are also a great alternative. They add beneficial iron to the diet and they heat evenly without adding toxic chemicals to the dish.

About the author

Natalie June is a teacher and mother dedicated to living as naturally as possible.

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