pansDo you ever just want to recycle your old, grimy pots and pans?  Maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of money on kitchen gear.  But a few years ago, an extensive report came out on the dangers of and cancer-causing ties to using non-stick frying pans.  At first, consumers were suspicious that the startling revelation about the cancer-causing possibility of our everyday frying pans may have been instigated by the industry’s goal to create a profit motive, forcing all Americans to purge their stock of frying pans.

GET RID OF YOUR OLD NON-STICK FRYING PANS?

Before you make any rash decisions, consider the facts: At high heat, which non-stick frying pans are prone to reacting to by getting even hotter, the coating on the non-stick frying pan breaks apart, causing toxic particles and cancer-causing gasses to be emitted–these gasses and particles can cause extreme illnesses, even thyroid disease, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a prominent nonprofit environmental research and advocacy organization, financed by the Rockefeller family, among other well-known families.  Teflon has been known to kill birds because of its toxicity.

Companies like DuPont say that there is no real risk to consumers of non-stick products.  DuPont claims that the release of toxins only happens at extremely high temperatures, not normal cooking temperatures.  That said, one of the qualities of non-stick surfaces is that they are prone to getting hotter, quickly, even as the stove begins to cool down.

The good news (or maybe not) is that the US government has not recalled any Teflon product…yet. 90% of all Americans, according to the Food and Drug Administration have the chemical in their body, whether or not it comes from the non-stick products is another question.

Manufacturers have agreed to phase out all non-stick surfaces by 2015.  The health risks of keeping them on the market are too great.

ECO-FRIENDLY FRYING PANS REPLACING THE NON-STICKS

While most non-stick frying pans are safe only up until about 500 degrees, the newer eco-friendly frying pans are safe to 850 degrees.  Quite a difference.  The non-stick surface used is ceramic, not Teflon.  The ceramic coating is called Thermolon.  With these new non-stick pans, 50% -60% fewer gasses are released as with the Teflon pans.

The good news: When the eco-friendly pans came out a few years ago they were extremely expensive, starting at over $30.  Recently, the pans have come down in price to starting at under $20, and are available at stores like Target and Macy’s.

CONSUMER FEEDBACK ON THE ECO-FRIENDLY NON-STICKS

Feedback has been encouraging, as we move towards more environmentally safe products, in general.  The negative comments that keep popping up are: the difficulty in cleaning the surfaces of these new frying pans, the thin layer of coating that seems to wear away fairly soon, another safety hazard.

Another note about the manufacturers–many of these new eco-friendly products are made in China, a country with an abysmal record on safety when using toxic chemicals.

You may just want to hold on to a few of your old pans until some of these kinks get worked out.

Jennifer Litwin