If Teflon is heated enough it can release up to 6 know toxic chemical, two are known carcinogens. One chemical is an analogue of phosgene, a nerve gas used in WWII.
An organization called the Environmental Working Group has performed independent research on Teflon cook ware, including reviewing research from DuPont and performing their own experiments. Their conclusions were that Teflon coated cookware can emit toxic fumes!
Their advice was that people should try and phase out this type of cookware from their home, especially for bird owners.
If you do want to phase out Teflon pans in your kitchen, what are the alternatives?
• Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is a terrific alternative to a non-stick cooking surface. Most chefs agree that stainless steel browns foods better than non-stick surfaces. In their 2001 review of sauté pans, Cooks Illustrated, an independent publication, chose a stainless steel pan over otherwise identical non-stick models. They also recommended stainless steel pan roasters over non-stick.
• Cast Iron
Cast iron remains a great alternative to non-stick cooking surfaces. Cast iron can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and will withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pans. Cast iron is extremely durable and after being used a few times develops its own non-stick surface.
• Other Cooking Surfaces
Some examples include ceramic titanium and porcelain enamelled cast iron. Both of these surfaces are very durable.
- The EPA has charged DuPont with illegally suppressing Teflon birth defect and water pollution studies for 22 years.
- Teflon contains a toxic chemical called C8 or PFOA which has been linked to cancer and birth defects in animals. Its effects have never been formally tested on humans
- Residents of West Virginia and Ohio who are suing DuPont have alleged they are suffering from health problems -- including respiratory problems and cancer -- they attribute to dumping of C-8.
- DuPont sent a letter to female workers saying that it did not know if there was a relationship between human birth defects and the chemical, but "we think this is a matter of sufficient concern that, as a precaution, a female who has [a blood level] above background level should consult with her personal physician prior to contemplating pregnancy."
The next year DuPont brought female workers back to areas where C-8 was used.
- According to the Telegraph in the UK, "The coating on non-stick pans used in millions of kitchens throughout the world has been linked to birth defects in humans and to the deaths of pets."
- One authority on perfluorinated polymers, Dr Jonathan Martin of Toronto University, said he considered the PFOA in Teflon to be potentially as harmful as the banned perfluorooctane sulphonate.
"It's not true that risks are less. PFOA has been recognized as a rat carcinogen for decades," he said.
- Environmental Working Group