Is Your Cookware Helping or Hurting Your Health?


by Linda Penkala, LMT | Contributing Writer

When I married a few decades ago, it’s fair to say that I received as shower gifts pots, pans and cookware.

Like a canary in a coal mine, they can be hazardous to or helpful for the health of all in the home as research is now revealing.

The convenience of nonstick cookware coated with Teflon sounded simple back in the day, but here are the ill health effects:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the chemical compound perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is “likely carcinogenic” in nonstick coatings, cleaning products and clothing.

The 2015 Madrid Statement, a signed document from 40 countries and 200 scientists informing of the harmful effects of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), documented their side effects of high cholesterol, low birth weight and size, liver disease, hypothyroidism, testicular and kidney cancers.

In 2005, the EPA fined the DuPont Co. $16.5 million for not revealing decade’s worth of research and health hazards from the use of PFOAs for making nonstick and stain-resistant materials, when it knew of the cancer connection. DuPont also knew that PFOAs could be transferred from a woman to the fetus through the placenta.

A 2003 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 98 percent of Americans had PFOAs in their bodies.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates on behalf of environmental issues, states that within five minutes of heating, nonstick cookware toxins are released into the air and food. DuPont’s own scientists indicated that when the cookware is heated, the coating breaks down into 15 types of elements and toxic gases.

In 2003, the EWG released “Canaries in the Kitchen” focusing on Teflon toxicosis in relation to bird pets dying from fumes, suffocating the lungs. DuPont acknowledged the fume’s impact on human health with polymer fume fever and publicly stated that Teflon kills birds, all this despite knowing of its harmful effects for 50 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Teflon for food contact in 1960.

Having foresight and the intention to select what is best for your family allows for research, reading and keen personal choices. Since heavy metals, aluminum and steel can absorb into the body, the ceramic or enameled cookware may be the best option for reducing any harmful toxins from building up, thereby being safer for years to come.