The smell of a home-cooked meal is one of the basic pleasures of life. Whether or not you’re the cook, smelling good food prepared the way you like it gives you the feeling of “being home”, and even more so when you’re hungry!
Unfortunately, it seems that the smell of good food isn’t the only thing entering your lungs when certain kinds of cookware are being used. There has been a worry for years that the fumes from cookware coated with Teflon, initially developed by the DuPont company in 1938, can make you sick.
Why is this a concern? At high temperatures, Teflon begins to emit fumes that are hazardous to human health, causing the development of flu-like systems referred to as the “Teflon Flu.” I’m sure DuPont’s proud to have a health condition named after their trademarked product.
Chemicals in the family that Teflon’s a part of have been associated with smaller birth weights, higher cholesterol, thyroid issues, and liver problems. Additionally, these fumes are extremely dangerous to birds; there have been cases of pet birds dying in the home when their owner uses non-stick cookware.
- Avoid cooking at high heat. Again, your goal is to stay below the 500° F threshold.
- Don’t preheat non-stick cookware on high heat.
- Keep your kitchen ventilated while using non-stick pans.
- Don’t use pans that are damaged. After a while, all pans can get chipped or damaged from use. Non-stick pots and pans that are damaged should be thrown away.
- Keep pet birds out of and away from the kitchen if you’re using non-stick pots or pans. For obvious reasons.
- When you purchase new cookware, check out stainless steel or cast iron, which don’t have the potentially harmful risks to your health.
Using these tips should keep you cooking (and breathing) easy, no matter what kind of cookware you use!
- Ask a Toxicologist: Is it safe to use Teflon pans? From the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If you like chemistry, you’ll like this article.
- Nervous About Nonstick? Nice article by Good Housekeeping on the subject.
- Skip the Non-Stick to Avoid the Dangers of Teflon. From the Environmental Working Group.