Monday, January 25, 2010

A (non-) sticky mess

Non-stick skillets and pans have graced my cabinets for as long as I can remember. While we've been phasing our admittedly cheaper pans from our college days out as they wear, we still have one pan that still gets use in our home on a regular basis.

So imagine my surprise when I read this weekend that the ease of that non-stick coating could carry a hefty price. The Globe and Mail reports that:

People with higher residues in their blood of a chemical used to make non-stick
coatings for frying pans and water-repellent clothing have a far greater
likelihood of reporting thyroid diseases, according to a new study released

...The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that in a group of nearly 4,000 people in the United States, those with elevated PFOA levels were more than twice as likely to report being on medication to treat thyroid conditions as those with lower concentrations of the chemical.

What's worse is what was buried in the story:
Once people ingest a quantity of PFOA, it takes about four years for half of the
chemical to be cleared from the body by the kidneys.

While this isn't the first time I've read about chemicals from everyday products taking harbor in your body, the research study certainly gives me pause. While I'll be the first to admit I'm annoyed when my husband leaves the cast-iron skillet on the stove uncleaned overnight, it may be a small price to pay to help ensure my child has a smaller chance of getting a disease that will require medical management for the rest of his or her life.

The greater question, of course, is where do all the tossed non-stick pans go...and what happens with the chemicals as they decompose. But that is a worry for another day.


Eco Yogini said...

so weird, I posted about cast iron pans this weekend :)

Adria Vasil from Ecoholic (2009) suggests sending the pans back to Dupont or Teflon with a note thanking them for all the wonderful chemicals they've put in our bodies.... lol.

Supposedly, PFOA's will be phased out in Canada 2010 in cookware (DuPont has promised anyway). The problem is that no study has indicated that the replacement chemicals are any safer.....

cast iron it is :) perhaps you should name your skillet, like Andrew named ours.... he seems to love it more now that it is named haha.

LacyHolly said...

ohhhhh!!! I am SO HAPPY I can share this with you!

We discovered these pans a while ago at Target and fell in *love* immediately! They are truly amazing.
I think it's something you should look into if you love the ease of non stick without the harmful side effects!

Lisa said...

We use stainless steel. I even just got a great set of stainless steel bakeware. I love stainless steel because if something does stick just soak it in some hot soapy water and it comes clean so easily.

Even before I knew about non-stick being a problem I didn't like it because you had to be careful not to scratch it. Of course I grew up using stainless steel so maybe that is why.