Teflon Out of the Frying Pan
8th December, 2008
Credited in the Guiness book of records as the world's most slippery substance, Teflon has escaped the scrutiny of environmental regulators for 50 years. Now evidence suggests that the chemicals that leak from the Teflon pans during cooking may be more harmful to the environment and human health that DDT
Discovered largely by accident in the late 1930s, Teﬂon has made all our lives a little easier. Waxy, slippery, dirt-, fat- and water-repellent, consumers encounter this amazing material in the coatings on frying pans and cooking utensils, stain-proof carpets and clothes, paper products, fast food packaging, spectacles, insulation on electrical wires and even the fabric roofs covering football stadiums.
Teﬂon-coated cookware is the ultimate in cookware convenience. It keeps food from sticking to the pan, allows the diet conscious to use less fat while cooking, and makes washing up easier. In fact, it’s so useful that nobody, not even its manufacturer DuPont, has bothered to do much in the way of proving whether it is actually safe to use.
The chemistry of Teﬂon is so complicated that most scientists don’t fully understand it. What is known is that Teﬂon is composed of several toxic chemicals that can be released from heated pans into the air and into food. The more often you use your pans at high temperatures, the quicker the coating will break down and emit tiny particles and gases into the air. As this happens (usually within about two years of continual use),...
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