Cookware Continues to Harbor Toxins
A new study by the Ecology Center Healthy Stuff Lab, “Still Cooking: An Update on Toxic PFAS in Cookware Products,” found some cookware manufacturers still use per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) coatings on nonstick products despite claims that their pans are free from them. In a follow-up to a 2020 report, the Ecology Center determined some product claims to be misleading, possibly causing consumers to mistakenly purchase a PFAS-coated pan.
The Ecology Center’s research and published findings on cookware coatings inspired lawmakers on the West Coast to include cookware in the California Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act of 2021, banning toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in paper-based food packaging and requiring disclosure of the toxic chemicals in cookware. Nancy Buermeyer, senior policy strategist at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, says, “Until now, no state or federal law required this disclosure, leaving consumers in the dark.”
In 2020, the Ecology Center found that 79 percent of nonstick cooking pans and 20 percent of nonstick baking pans tested positive for polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE, or Teflon) coatings. This research is a part of their broader mission to phase out nonessential uses of PFAS to protect drinking water. PTFE-based pan coatings can release the toxin into the environment throughout their lifespan. Once dispersed, PFAS pollution is extremely difficult to clean up.
A growing body of evidence indicates some PFAS contribute to liver disease, increased cholesterol, impaired response to vaccines, thyroid disease, asthma, lowered fertility and high blood pressure in pregnant women. Elevated risks of testicular and kidney cancer have been found in highly exposed people. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a heavily used and well-studied PFAS chemical, as a possible carcinogen. Melissa Cooper Sargent, an environmental health advocate at the Ecology Center, states, “We suggest opting for uncoated pans made from cast iron or stainless steel, or for baking, glass or ceramic.”
For more information, visit EcoCenter.org.