Posted by Norman Fong, August 1st, 2012
We are concerned about chemicals in our food, but another source of toxins is from the cookware that we use in our kitchens. It is important that we understand the different types of cookware and possible dangers. There has been significant media coverage on problems with different non-stick coatings off gassing, especially when subject to high heat.
A leading consumer magazine recently reviewed green pan cookware. Our eyes are always looking for highly rated green cookware. We have covered Teflon coatings on cookware in the past. EWG has plenty of information on Teflon dangers. Ski wax also contains PFOA.
This magazine rated green pans such as the Earth Pan by Farberware with Sand Flow coating tops. The innovative SandFlow nonstick surface contains no PTFEs or PFOAs, and allow for easy food release. No compromise for going green. $125 for a 10 piece set from Amazon.
Another new option is The Original Green Pan from Ingenious Designs. It uses Thermolon Expert non stick technology but is PTFE-Free (Teflon), PFOA-Free in manufacturing, dishwasher safe, works to 850 F. They do not cover what ingredients are in the non stick coating though. This is being pushed on HSN.
Gore-Tex and the PFOA Controversy
Gore-Tex and Teflon are made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or its by-products. A lot of the problems are in ground water contamination near chemical plants.
I’m trying to investigate how safe Gore-Tex is. A chemistry department chair at U of T recently stated that small amounts of fluorotelomer alcohols do remain and release PFOAs into the atmosphere. By 2015, chemical companies are suppose to voluntarily phase out the use of PFOA and related chemicals.
I have jackets made with it and have used dental floss with it. I cannot find research that links Gore-Tex with heath problems or specific PFOA leeching problems.
Wikipedia mentions that later versions of Gore-Tex have more layers that protect the Teflon membrane.
A confusing area for sure. If in doubt, avoid the material.
Eco Friendly Green Pans and Green Cookware
How could such a mundane an area as Pots and Pans require Eco friendly analysis?
Selecting the right sized pots and pans with good lids and cooking at lower temps will reduce energy use. A 6 inch pan on an 8 inch heating elements wastes 40% of the heating elements’ heat. You should obviously adjust gas flames so they do not come up the sides.
What kind of material should I choose? Environmental Working Group has articles covering the dangers of coated nonstick pans and teflon dangers. Nonstick cookware uses a coating containing polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). When heated to high temperatures, it creates hazards gasses.
Did you know pet birds exposed to fumes from nonstick cookware can die?
Product brand names containing PTFE coating include non-stick Teflon, SilverStone, Supra, Calphalon, All-Clad, Circulon, Emerilware, Farberware, Meyer, KitchenAid, Krups, and George Foreman. The stain repellants StainMaster and Scotchgard also contain PTFE.
Silicone-coated brand name cookware such as Baker’s Secret and EKCO, will not produce toxic fumes, and are considered safe. Because cookware and appliance manufacturers are not required to label their products it is hard to figure out what is ptfe coating free.
Teflon-related compounds include perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluoroctanic acid (PFOA). They are also used in food packaging.
The Seattle-based Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition and other experts recommend stainless-steel, cast-iron and enameled cast-iron cookware as the best options.
Green Cookware for the Eco Friendly Kitchen covers some green pans and green pan cookware that avoids teflon dangers.
Ski wax also contains PFOA.
Shattering Glass Bakeware
Shattering glass Bakeware is a problem not many know about. We read about it in the January 2011 Consumer Reports. News reports and Internet postings about glass bakeware unexpectedly shattering due to heat makes us nervous. Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are the two major manufacturers who have created webpages debunking this syndrome.
The article suggests that a change in glass formulation to soda lime from borosilicate glass in the early 1980s may be behind the issues. The change was made due to manufacturing emissions issues. European glass bakeware from companies like Arcuisine continue to use borosilicate glass.
The article has the following suggestions, which we think are worth following:
- Always place hot glassware on a dry, cloth potholder or towel.
- Never put glassware directly on a burner or under a broiler.
- Always allow the oven to fully preheat before placing the glassware in the oven.
- Always cover the bottom of the dish with liquid before cooking meat or vegetables.
- Don’t add liquid to hot glassware.
- If you’re using the dish in a microwave, do not use browning elements, and avoid overheating oil or butter.
- Do not take dishes directly from the freezer to the oven or vice versa.
- Never place hot glassware on top of a stove, on a metal trivet, on a damp towel, in the sink, on a cold or wet surface, or directly on a countertop.
- Inspect your dishes for chips, cracks, and scratches. Discard dishes with such damage.
- To avoid risks associated with glass dishes, consider using metal bakeware for conventional and convection ovens.
Be sure to read our article: Save Money, Only buy these Organic items