PFAS forever chemicals, found in non-stick cookware (including Teflon), are toxic to humans, animals and the environment. Stop buying them! Use these options instead (cast iron, enamelled cast iron, stainless steel, and glass (like pyrex). PFAS are found in lots of other consumer products.
There is a really nasty class of synthetic chemicals know as PFAS. They are used in coatings that are water- stain- or grease resistant, as well as for non-stick surfaces in cookware. These chemicals are referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ as they do not readily breakdown in the environment. They are building up in our ecosystems and bioaccumulating in the bodies of humans and animals.
They contribute to obesity, cancer and neurodevelopmental problems as well as being endocrine disruptors that contribute to infertility. Safety concerns about PFASs were covered up by the chemical industry for decades before the information became public. See the link in the description for the shocking coverup behind teflon.
Non-stick cookware brands have sometimes changed the chemicals used, ditching the old PFAS forever chemicals, and instead opting for….a newer PFAS forever chemical, for which, conveniently, no safety data yet exists. Don’t be fooled - all teflon like non-stick cookware is toxic. The chemicals in them can end up in your food but even if you believe that the non-stick coating on your frying pan is fine, what happens when you’re done with it? Well, it gets discarded and ultimately ends up leaching PFAS chemicals into the environment, the food chain and the water supply.
So here are some safer bets for your kitchen:
For frying - cast iron cookware, which will require seasoning, but it’s not hard. If you want something lower hassle then enamelled cast iron would be an alternate - looks pretty similar as you can tell. For boiling, stainless steal, which should also be what you have in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. And for baking and roasting - glass such as pyrex.
In our household we use all of these regularly and they are all easy to clean and maintain. They can also last a lot longer than non stick cookware, which reduces turnover - an essential step in helping the environment.
Governments, whilst giving lip service to the huge problem of PFAS chemicals, do next to nothing in terms of solutions. They tend to recommend working with the industry and doing more research, which roughly translates to ‘not bothering to do anything’. But we all vote with our wallet and have the power to do our bit. Do not buy any more non-stick cookware. And whilst we are considering what’s in our kitchens, don’t buy plastic storage containers, use glass or ceramic instead, and don’t chop on plastic chopping boards, use wood instead.
Cover up involving DuPont, Teflon and PFAS: https://annalsofglobalhealth.org/articles/10.5334/aogh.4013
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (US Government): https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/pfc/index.cfm
Environment Agency (UK Government): https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1012230/Poly-_and_perfluoroalkyl_substances_-sources_pathways_and_environmental_data_-_report.pdf
I hope you found this information useful.
Dr Philip Bosanquet
The Low-Tech Lifestyle Medic