Used by almost everyone and extremely renowned, non-stick pans and appliances have become a mainstay in all types of kitchens. It has been so successful that numerous people would defend them with their lives. And why not? Choosing a non-stick pan means you don't have to make use of any special method or tool to stop your food from sticking. It also lets you cook with less fat or oil, ensuring the process of cleaning up is much simpler. This would be the perfect cooking implement for those who don't want any added processed oils or fats to their diet, right? It should also be great for those who don't use any heavy chemicals to clean up after, since it's probably a healthy option, right?
Well, you're wrong!!
Non-stick pans are actually made with substances and chemicals that are known to affect our health adversely. If recent wellness and health news is anything to go by, there has been recent uproar concerning Teflon. This has been the case since researchers were able to link Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS for short) substances to health issues. Teflon, on the other hand, has been making use of Gen X or Generation X, which is a different type of non-stick substance.
Nevertheless, research conducted by the EPA or Environmental Agency has recently shown that GenX is more of the same. Further research has hypothesized that while a plethora of kitchen utensils have been labelled as nontoxic, they could actually cause severe safety and health issues.
Why Should I Stop Using non-stick pans?
Those of you still new to the green lifestyle have probably missed the raucous caused by Teflon, but don't worry - I'm here to give you a quick rundown!
Your typical non-stick pans available is manufactured by the brand Teflon. At first, the products consisted of a chemical known as surfactant perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or "C8"). C8 or PFOAA is part of the dangerously toxic chemical class which are known to adversely affect the health of humans. After being linked to numerous health issues (like disruption of the thyroid hormone, as well as various immune system problems), these chemical substances subsequently came under fire from all angles.
This lead to most non-stick pans manufacturers scrambling for a suitable alternative. Not wanting to leave the seamless cleaning and non-stick properties of Teflon behind, researchers worked on producing a similar, yet safer formulae, called GenX - the substitution for PFOA. It was meant to allow consumers to continue enjoying all of Teflon's benefits while having to deal with none of its downsides. Now if this sounds a little fishy to you ... you're right!
Whilst GenX differs from PFOA, it has a similar chemical structure to PFOA. Additionally, GenX has also be classified as a PFC chemical, which means it clearly demonstrates toxic effects, similar to those of PFOA. At the end of the day, consumers were left with the same concerns as before, going by a different label.
The takeaway from all of this is that you should stop using non-stick pans that contains any of the substances below:
Now you might be wondering what exactly are the negative aspects for using cookware containing these substances. You might say "my food doesn't actually stay in the pot or pan long after I finish cooking" "it isn't like I'm scraping the pan on a plate and eating, right?"
To be honest, that is exactly what you are doing.
The utilities and environment that were used for cooking your food tend to have a significant amount of influence on the final smell, taste and quality, all of which are a product of chemical composition.
Have you ever thought for a second why your food has a different smell to what you imagined, especially if it's been a while since the oven got cleaned? This is because tiny bits of any food that you have cooked prior tend to hang around and then get mixed into the new dishes. This is the same trays, pots and pans: they all could leave tiny traces in your food. Now you might think all of your cookware is dangerous, but fret not! Most of the utensils and cookware we make use of every day have been verified safe. Non-stick cookware that consists of PFAS, however, is capable of leaking toxins into the food, as well as releasing fumes which could then pollute your kitchen and other areas in your house with noxious chemicals. These PFAS classes compounds are thought to have carcinogenic effects, hormone and cause endocrine disruptors. They can also cause the following:
- Metabolic diseases
- Behavioural changes in children and infants
- Learning and child growth issues
- Immune system damage
- Lowered Pregnancy Chances
Once an individual is exposed to chemicals like these, the effects tend to linger and never dissipate. PFAS are quite persistent, meaning that they are extremely difficult to be rid of. Which is why I strongly recommend you to steer clear of them.
When shopping for cookware, I typically avoid anything with the non-stick label, even if it states it is PFOA free. As of this moment, all of the substitute chemicals used are dangerous. I'd rather wait for research to say they are safe. It's better to not risk my family's health. Here are some green options to choose from:
Aluminium and Ceramic Coated cookware.
What To Purchase
If you are worried about PFOA like me, then you should have no problem using cookware made of glass, stainless steel and cast iron. These are readily available, affordable and much more durable than supposed green cookware options.
These options are much better, particularly with cast iron being as close to non-stick as one can get, minus the toxic chemical substances. Stainless steel, while slightly expensive compared to cast iron, is safe and durable. While glass might be less durable, particular to high temperatures, they are great to use and are sure to come in handy.