Most of us love nonstick cookware because you don’t have to slather on butter and oil to keep food from sticking—saving you some calories—and it requires no scrubbing whatsoever so you’re out of the kitchen faster.
Unfortunately, there are potential risks to some types of non-stick surfaces known as Teflon. “The fluoropolymer coating of the nonstick cookware can release some carcinogenic chemicals, like perfluorooctanoic acid (C8), upon heating,” explains Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D., environmental toxologist at the New York State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center. “C8 can be released at normal cooking temperatures, but at very high temperatures, the fluoropolymer coating can peel off and contaminate foods.”
These chemicals have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects including smaller weight and size in newborn babies, high cholesterol, abnormal thyroid levels, liver inflammation and a weakened immune system, according to the Environmental Working Group.
“There is even something called 'teflon flu,' which is a flu-like illness that occurs when people inhale these toxic fumes,” adds Susan Blum, M.D., assistant clinical professor of preventative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Symptoms of this “flu” include chills, fever and headaches. That’s the bad news. The good is that there are ways you can protect yourself.
Check out the slideshow above for ways to use new cooking ware safely.