The nonstick industry seems to be putting us all in a sticky situation. A string of studies have found links between perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and female infertility, low sperm count, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease. (Here are 9 thyroid damager hanging out in your home.) The chemical PFOA is listed as a likely carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and persists in the environment, and in your body, indefinitely. However, there are no current restrictions on the use of PFOA in consumer products, and it is used extensively in nonstick cookware.
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Chemical manufacturer DuPont uses PFOA in nonstick Teflon, but says the chemical is not present in the finished product. However, even studies done by DuPont have found that Teflon and similar nonstick services emit six toxic gases under high heat. The Environmental Working Group's testing found has found that some nonstick surfaces break down under just medium heat (325 degrees). These heated nonstick surface fumes have been known to be harmful to pet birds, according to the ASPCA. Perhaps you're familiar with the expression, "canary in a coal mine?"
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To create a more ecofriendly kitchen, one of the top things you can do is phase out Teflon and other non-stick cookware. Get in the habit of reading labels closely: a lot of nonstick pans will say they have no Teflon, but they're still coated with PTFE, which is essentially the same thing. To steer clear of PTFE-based coatings, avoid pans advertised as Fluron, Supra, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph, Unison, Swiss Diamond, and T-Fal.
Here are the best non-toxic alternatives to chemical nonstick cookware.