Equipping your kitchen with essentials can be challenging if you’re unsure of what you need. If you are looking at cooking ware, then you might come across PFOA pans. Find out what it is exactly and if you should get one for yourself.
What Is PFOA?
If it’s your first time hearing the term PFOA, you are not alone. Many people might not have the faintest idea about this. However, learning about the different kitchen equipment and what goes into them is important. A pan, for example, is something that we use almost daily to cook our food. If there’s anything harmful in this, then you have to know about it!
If we want to learn more about PFOA or Perfluorooctanoic Acid, we might need to look into non-stick pans. However, PFOA, a man-made chemical, is not only present in pans. You can find it in other products such as household goods and other consumer products.
PFOA is a chemical used mainly in coating non-stick pans, with Teflon being the most popular one. Over the years, the use of PFOA in non-stick pans has been in hot water.
Getting A PFOA Pan
Nowadays, finding a PFOA coated pan might be difficult to find. It’s because many companies, including Teflon, have made a commitment to stop the use of this chemical in their products.
There are many reasons why companies have stopped using PFOA in pans and other kitchen and household essentials. PFOA poses several health concerns to the people. It has also affected the environment, affecting human beings and animals in many parts of the world.
In the case of non-stick pans, PFOA is released in the air if it gets way too hot. If the cooking temperature exceeds 360 degrees Celsius, traces of PFOA are released. While the effects are minimal, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If there is prolonged exposure to this, it increases your risk of developing certain diseases. PFOA tends to stay in the body for a long period of time. Those who are also exposed to PFOA in factories and manufacturing plants should also be wary of their exposure to PFOA.
There has been a global contamination crisis due to the presence, usage, and health risks of PFOA. It led to calls for its global ban. There are still some areas of the world that lean towards the use of PFOA. However, more and more countries have joined the cause, pushing for the ban of this toxic chemical.
What Are The Health Risks?
Those who have been exposed to high levels of PFOA are the ones most at risk. Many studies have shown how PFOA can be damaging to people’s health and welfare.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), PFOA has been dubbed as a possible carcinogen to human beings. PFOA has been linked to increased risks of developing kidney and testicular cancers.
Researchers have discovered that those who have high levels of PFOA in their bodies are most likely to develop Thyroid related diseases.
The Thyroid Gland is responsible for secreting hormones associated with metabolism. If someone has an abnormal Thyroid level, it can affect their weight.
Those who have ingested high levels of PFOA, whether through contaminated food or water, are likely to suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases like Ulcerative Colitis.
This health condition mainly attacks the colon, causing inflammation and irritation.
Pregnant women who are exposed to PFOA should be concerned. It can affect the growth and development of their baby. Babies born from mothers with high PFOA levels weighed less than desired. The circumference of their heads are also smaller.
Perhaps one of the most known incidents related to PFOA and the environment involves the American company DuPont.
DuPont is a Delaware-based chemical company sued for releasing toxins like PFOA from their Parkersburg, West Virginia plant for over 50 years. They have also released toxins into the Ohio River.
The toxins that the company has been dumping for over half a century contaminated water sources, farm lands, and many more. It affected so many people and caused various health concerns among them.
After a lengthy battle, Dupont settled with the over 3,000 plaintiffs for $670.7 million.
The Dupont case is just one of many examples of how PFOA toxins can harm the environment and affect humans as well. Factories, plants, and manufacturers around the world have been dumping PFOA irresponsibly, contaminating land, air, and water.
Harmful To Birds
If you own a pet bird, make sure it’s not anywhere near your kitchen when you are using a PFOA-coated pan. When a PFOA pan overheats, it releases toxins in the air.
When inhaled or ingested by a bird, this can make them uncomfortable, leading to distress or poisoning. If anything like this happens, you need to bring your bird to the nearest veterinary clinic.
Get These Now And Throw Those PFOA Pans Away
Given the issues associated with PFOA pans, it’s advised to avoid using them! If you have old pans made of Teflon, just throw them out! You won’t regret doing that. Even if you can still use them, you have to think of your safety and welfare. Instead, you might consider safer alternatives like dark coated pans.
If you are trying to shop for pans, there are so many other options out there for you. Here are some of them to help you out:
Cast Iron Pan
When it comes to cast iron pans, durability is the name of the game. Despite its weight, it’s something that you can use for a very long time. It’s multi-functional and it can withstand extremely high temperatures.
If you are wondering if this also has non-stick properties, it actually does. The more you use it, the more “non-stick” it becomes.
Before you get a cast iron pan, know that you can’t treat this like an ordinary kitchen pan. Since a cast iron pan is made of iron, it can be prone to rust. However, if you know how to clean and store it, you won’t have much problem.
Stainless Steel Pan
Another great alternative to PFOA pans is stainless steel pans. While it might not have the non-stick element, it has its charm. It’s what you call an all-rounder type of cooking equipment. Kitchen professionals like chefs use stainless steel pans. That alone indicates how well this type of pan works. If you want to channel your inner Masterchef, then you should get one or more for yourself!
You can pretty much cook anything on your stainless steel pan such as your favorite breakfast food. It evenly distributes heat all over the pan, perfect for anything that involves high-temperature cooking. And while it involves high heat, it releases no toxins at all.
When cooking, the food might stick on the pan, leaving you to do some extra work to clean it out. However, with a scrub here and there, it’ll be clean again in no time!
Carbon Steel Pans
If you own cast iron and stainless steel pans, why not complete the trio and buy a carbon steel pan? This type of pan is a mix of these two pans. However, compared to a cast iron pan, a carbon steel pan weighs less.
There’s a lot of different things you can do with your carbon steel pans. It’s very versatile. It’s not just something for your stovetop. You can use it for baking and broiling as well. You can pop it in the oven with no problem at all!
Another good thing about carbon steel pans is that it’s non-sticky. As long as you season the carbon steel pans, you won’t have a problem with food sticking on it. And the more you use and season it, the better it gets.
Ceramic Non-stick Pans
If you are thinking of PFOA-free pans, then you should never leave ceramic non-stick pans out. One of the main properties of this type of pan is that it’s non-reactive. You don’t have to worry about chemicals or toxins getting into your food. It’s a safe and smooth alternative to the usual pans you know.
When cooking with ceramic non-stick pans, you typically don’t need to add a lot of oil or butter. Since it’s non-stick by nature, you can only use a little or none at all. It depends on what you are cooking.
If there’s one thing to keep in mind, it’s the fact that ceramic non-stick pans can be sensitive and fragile. You have to be careful with it all the time. Whether you are cooking or cleaning it, you should handle it with care.
Find Better Alternatives For Your PFOA Pans
There are now so many sustainable, environment-friendly alternatives to PFOA-coated pans in the market. You just have to be diligent in finding out what these are. Don’t forget to snatch them as soon as you find the best ones out there!
Michael Johnson is the founder of The Pan Handler, Inspired by his blacksmith grandfather’s legacy has a deep appreciation for hand-crafted pots and pans, he provides invaluable guides, reviews, and recipes to enhance your culinary journey.