Polymer Fume Fever - Teflon Flu

What is Teflon?

Teflon is the trade name for a synthetic polymer, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). PTFE is a polymer that is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t stick to water or water-containing substances (anything that’s wet). It also has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid, giving it the necessary qualities for great non-stick cookware. Since the early 1960s, Teflon brand nonstick coatings have been used on cookware. Although consumers know the Teflon trademark for its nonstick properties in cookware applications, not all nonstick coated cookware contains or is made with Teflon nonstick coatings. Chemours nonstick coatings for cookware are based on food grade PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), which is a high-performance fluoropolymer. The final cookware coating is a dried, durable nonstick material which delivers the easy clean and nonstick performance that you expect from your cookware coated with Teflon nonstick.

Studies show that in about 5 minutes, a Teflon-coated pan heats up to around 750ºF. According to the Environmental Working Group, thermal degradation of PTFE leads to a litany of toxic compounds, including highly corrosive and lethal gases, and PFIB, a chemical warfare agent that is 10 times more lethal than phosgene (a chemical warfare agent used in WWI and WWII). These compounds persist in the environment and are not known to break down further.

How Toxic is Teflon?

Once scratched, teflon pans begin an inevitable march toward complete exfoliation. That is, all that teflon is going to end up in your food, and then inside your body.

According to the Environmental Working Group, teflon and PFOA (which is the chemical used to make teflon) are some of the most persistent chemicals in the world. Their toxic legacy will outlive every one of us, and the next 25 generations of our offspring. Ironically, it may shorten each generation’s lifespan, as well. PFOA’s effects include liver damage, immune dysfunction, thyroid dysfunction, and a decreased ability to fight infection.

Teflon Kills Birds

PTFE is most notorious for its toxicity to birds. This has been referred to as “Teflon toxicosis” where the lungs of exposed birds hemorrhage, filling up with fluid and leading to suffocation. Here are some shocking stories of bird deaths related to Teflon (PTFE) exposure

Teflon Toxicity in Humans

In humans, Teflon toxicity causes polymer fume fever, a temporary, intense, though not very serious influenza-like syndrome. Only a few cases have been reported of people going to the hospital from overheated Teflon. Since the fever mimics the flu, it is likely doctors would not realize the origin of the illness coming from overheated Teflon. Polymer fume fever is only caused from exposure to PTFE breakdown products. Further alarm comes as PTFE residuals, known as perfluorocarbons (PFC’s) were found in breast milk from all 45 nursing mothers tested in this study.

Safe Alternatives for Healthy Cooking

Stainless Steel - Stainless steel is a popular choice for healthy cookware because it is one of the most inert metals, though it has been reported to leach a small amount of chromium and nickel, which may be problematic for those with a sensitivity or allergy to chromium or nickel.

Cast iron pans - It work just as well as non-stick pots and pans when seasoned properly. The more oil residue built up on the pans, the greater non-stick effect is produced. Cast iron pots and pans have been used for centuries and are popular with campers.

Information Source http://greenlivingideas.com

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