The Health Hazards With Nonstick Cookware

It almost seems that there will always be something that balances the scale when it comes to advantages and disadvantages of consumer products.

Sort of like production costs always seem rise with every upgrade of a product. There never seem to be products that work better and costs less to consumers.

For example, why is it that with electronic products costing less and less to make, that every new flagship smart device launched by Apple and Samsung always seem to be priced higher than it predecessors?

Doesn’t Moore’s Law hold any water at all in the modern world?

Pardon my rant. That is a discussion for another day and more appropriate on a different platform.

I felt that it is a great lead up to nonstick cookware.

When non-stick cooking pans entered the market, it literally took the world by storm.

Here was a product that every household and every kitchen would want. It does not only solve the problem with bad cooking technique, it also make the tedious job of cleanup must more tolerable for those who hate the part.

But alas! Surely something must give to balance out the benefits of nonstick cookware?

It just don’t seem natural for food to cook on a pan and leave little to no residue or soot on the pan itself.

But on the other hand, we had always known cookware to “stick”. Maybe non-stick is actually the more natural product?

Nonstick cookware like pots and frying pans actually possess this amazing nonstick ability by being coated with a synthetic material called polytetrafluoretheylene (PTFE).

That’s quite a mouthful. I know. I don’t name these things.

Also known as teflon, PTFE is also categorized as a perfluorochemical (PFC).

Enough with the long-winded names and abbreviations.

Nonstick cookware are not godsend as many of us believe. There are drawbacks with it as well. And one of which is it’s potential to release toxic fumes when heated at high temperatures.

And it doesn’t take extreme heat or extended heating for these fumes to be released. A few minutes on the typical stove can be enough start it’s engine.

You must be thinking that that cannot be true. Because how on earth could the authorities approve such a product if it releases toxic gas into the air.

Well I don’t have inside knowledge of how these audits work. But my guess is that the level of toxic is deemed to not be significantly harmful to humans.

Well that does not mean that just because we can withstand short exposure to carbon monoxide that I would gladly suck it into my lungs.

Not that I want to add insult to injury, but PFCs are also substances used in insect repellent.

What health impacts can these toxic fumes cause?

The toxic can be deadly to small animals.

When accumulated in the human body, PFCs can cause adverse health conditions like:

  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Weak immune systems
  • Thyroid problems
  • etc

Because these are health problems that seldom get diagnosed early, I don’t think that it’s far-fetched to suggest that many people might be suffering from such conditions without thinking that their frying pans are contributing to it to a certain extent.

The exposure to these unhealthy fumes increase when there is damage to the coating on nonstick cookware.

Scratches and scrapes can make it easier for these fumes to escape into the air you breathe.

So the next time you find damage to your cooking pan, do seriously consider replacing it even if you feel that it’s just a cosmetic defect.

Eliminating and managing this health hazard

If you are all-in on the healthy home movement, the choice is obvious.

Replace every item that is nonstick. This includes the:

  • woks
  • pans
  • pots
  • utensils
  • etc


But if you must keep them, I can understand… because I have a couple of them too sitting around in the house.

Then at least try to use a lower heat when using them to cook. Then switch on the fan and open the windows when cooking. Do avoid using utensils on these cookware to avoid scratching them.

The proven, tried and tested cookware is undoubtedly stainless steel. Cook ware made from cast iron, ceramic and glass are not so bad either.

So what if you need to use more oil for cooking? At least you are not consuming toxic substances.