Join 3,423 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Not my sweet, beautiful pans?!
November 15, 2003 10:13 AM   Subscribe

"Pending its review, the EPA says it is not now advising consumers to stop using Teflon products. The results of the agency's review of the safety of C-8 and of Teflon-related products that may release it are expected in coming months" Teflon may cause birth defects and illness. D'oh!
posted by mathowie (36 comments total)

 
Seeing this at first shocked me, but then a few obvious questions came to mind that a fluff 20/20 piece don't get anywhere near. Hasn't teflon been around for about 40-50 years? Why hasn't this come out sooner? And is Bucky Bailey the only "lobster baby" ever affected by teflon? Is working at the DuPont Teflon plant vs. using a teflon coated pan once a week anywhere near the same exposure to C-8?
posted by mathowie at 10:24 AM on November 15, 2003


A bit misleading boldface in the post there and strange language on 20-20s part, "EPA says it is not now advising consumers to stop using Teflon products." There's a lot of clearer ways to say that they haven't made a decision about it.
posted by neustile at 10:42 AM on November 15, 2003


Does that mean I should quit using my George Foreman grill?

Seriously, I recommend cast iron skillets. When properly seasoned they don't stick, and they add iron to one's diet since it leaches a bit into what you cook, especially acidic foods.

My mom still cooks with one that originally belonged to my great-grandmother.
posted by konolia at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2003 [1 favorite]


ah, good point on the bold, I removed it. Sorry about that. I read it so fast I thought it was the EPA was in fact telling consumers not to buy teflon.
posted by mathowie at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2003


One general thought about why this has just come out: lesser order environmental toxins can cause birth defects and health products that will only tend to show up as slight variations in large scale statistical profiles. These 'slight variations' may nonetheless be responsible for - in a population of hundreds of millions - many thousands of health problems and birth abnormalities.

Epidemiological research tends to be painfully slow, especially for the fact that it can be close to impossible sometimes to separate the health impact of suspect substances from the influence of that veritable sea of manmade substances (many or even most toxic) which industrial-culture humans move about in every day of their lives.

As a general principle though, any manmade substance (any substance which does no occur in nature) will tend to cause mischief somewhere in the web of life on earth. There may exist exceptions to this rule, but I can't think of any offhand.

This principle is, BTW, one of the basic conceptual underpinnings of The Natural Step
posted by troutfishing at 10:52 AM on November 15, 2003


Oops - that should have been "birth defects and health problems" - although I think that the "health products" do tend to follow the health problems and so; the American diet is likely largely responsible for the explosion in early onset Diabetes in the US, but the problem is being addressed through new medicines rather than through dietary recommendations.
posted by troutfishing at 10:57 AM on November 15, 2003


That article is all muddy. I recommend looking at the Environmental Working Group report.

My summary:
- Bird-owners have known for years that Teflon fumes could kill birds.
- DuPont is only now admitting that C-8 is still present (in the past they have denied it)
- The impact of these fumes on humans is unknown but worthy of study
posted by vacapinta at 10:59 AM on November 15, 2003


Seriously, I recommend cast iron skillets. When properly seasoned they don't stick, and they add iron to one's diet since it leaches a bit into what you cook, especially acidic foods.

And they fry things better, too -- that or a nice laminated aluminum core/stainless pan.

AND cast iron is so cheap as to be basically free, AYUND Lodge, in a "You mean we haven't been doing this for 100 years?" moment, will sell you *pre-seasoned* pans.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:02 AM on November 15, 2003


This is some serious old news to most people. (The links are to two mentions that actually appeared previously on MF.) Nice of the network news to finally think about catching up to one of the major environmental concerns of a decade ago, I guess.
posted by Zangezi at 11:03 AM on November 15, 2003


Your aluminum pots might screw you up, too. Just stick with titanium, folks. Or better yet, just stick with 100% uncooked vegetables. Juiceman!!!
posted by whatnotever at 11:12 AM on November 15, 2003


AND cast iron is so cheap as to be basically free, AYUND Lodge, in a "You mean we haven't been doing this for 100 years?" moment, will sell you *pre-seasoned* pans.

ROU, could you explain this comment? I googled ayund lodge and came up with zip.
posted by billsaysthis at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2003


Lodge is the name of the company. I presume he meant AND.
posted by konolia at 11:20 AM on November 15, 2003


It's known that overheating Teflon causes it to outgas some very hazardous poisons. A large part of the problem may be with non-stick frypans being used inappropriately, and not with the general use of teflon in a non-hazardous manner.

Aluminum is unlikely to cause problems. It's the third(?) most-common element on the earth. It's ubiquitous.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 AM on November 15, 2003


Lodge is the name of the company. I presume he meant AND

Indeed. It was an AYUND because it was spoken in the mild southern accent I have and for which I am occasionally poked fun at by my Canadian (which is to say Yankee) wife.

Lodge
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:03 PM on November 15, 2003


This and so many other things in our life would be such a big difference if we humans had potential lifespans of over 200 years. At most one can hope to add another 20 or 30 years on to life by eating correctly and avoid chemicals, and most people my age (20 something) fear those years anyway. Now if we aged much slower, I think that people would care far more about things like eating correctly.
posted by woil at 12:25 PM on November 15, 2003


Just to add fire to the "what should we cook with" debate...

Cast iron is good for chefs, or people who will be cooking for a couple of hours. If that doesn't describe you, opt for copper instead. It has a higher thermal conductivity than any option you're likely to use, so it will heat and cool faster, and distribute the heat evenly. Iron distributes very evenly as well, but it tends to retain heat for a long time. Great for chefs... useless for the average consumer who's just trying to show off.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:10 PM on November 15, 2003


Seriously, I recommend cast iron skillets.

Just don't put them in the dishwasher.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:12 PM on November 15, 2003


Gee, how come mathowie gets to fix boo-boos in his posts but nobody else does? Kidding. Just a little chain-yanking, there...

But seriously, I'm beginning to suspect using my "Ultimate Pasta Pot" is causing brain damage. Or is it buying the "Ultimate Pasta Pot" is a sign of brain damage?
posted by wendell at 2:31 PM on November 15, 2003


Wendell, just asking the question is your signpost.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:38 PM on November 15, 2003


Hasn't teflon been around for about 40-50 years? Why hasn't this come out sooner? And is Bucky Bailey the only "lobster baby" ever affected by teflon? Is working at the DuPont Teflon plant vs. using a teflon coated pan once a week anywhere near the same exposure to C-8?

will the teflon don finally pay for his crimes, or will he escape to sicily to rise to power once more and perhaps succeed in controlling the ultra-lucrative world-wide urea-formaldahyde foam insulation market?
posted by quonsar at 2:43 PM on November 15, 2003


Official DuPont position

Disclaimer: I'm a contractor at DuPont, in the business unit that makes one of the components that goes into Teflon. Safety is a huge priority for them, considering that they started out making gunpowder, which is very explosive.
posted by eilatan at 2:47 PM on November 15, 2003


Just to add fire to the "what should we cook with" debate

Hey, that's an idea! Let's cook with fire!
posted by kindall at 2:59 PM on November 15, 2003


considering that they started out making gunpowder, which is very explosive.

...
posted by carfilhiot at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2003


How the HELL does one get a pan to 680 degrees F? My *oven* doesn't go that far. Wouldn't the handle melt off at that temperature? What about the plastic outgassings from it?

At that temperature you could cook a hammer, never mind fry eggs.

This is just plain FUD. BTW: Computers release dangerous chemicals when heated to that temperature! Don't use Athlon processors! They run SO HOT. Bla bla bla.

The real kicker is it seems it takes working in a teflon factory to get sick. Unless you work in one, seems you'll be ok.

Looks like this'll all boil down to a neat little worker safety lawsuit, then peter out like it should.
posted by shepd at 3:26 PM on November 15, 2003


The listing of "teflon" products that never see heat is also somewhat irresponsible for 20/20. Who "overheats" Gore-Tex jackets (or stain-resistant carpets)? The off-gassing from most fluorinated products is negligible....

And the one-line quotes that make Dupont seem evil are almost laughable: "People shouldn't put birds in an unvented kitchen" "There are a lot of chemicals in people's blood."

Respectable journalism? What's that?
posted by mhh5 at 4:03 PM on November 15, 2003


I think this was my favorite "derrr..." sentence from the article: "Chowdhry is the DuPont executive chosen to defend Teflon, and she claims that the substance is completely safe, despite the fact that the key chemical, C-8, is in everyone's blood."

That's one hell of a non sequitur.
posted by UKnowForKids at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2003


Great for chefs... useless for the average consumer who's just trying to show off

Nonsense. A cast-iron frying pan is great for a quick indoor steak. Or for that trucker's delight of delights, chicken-fried steak, YUM. Or for pan-fried chicken.

I'd think most people would be better served by an aluminum-core stainless pan than with a full-on copper one, which costs the earth and has to be re-tinned every so often and all that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:57 PM on November 15, 2003


>I'd think most people would be better served by an aluminum-core stainless pan than with a full-on copper one, which costs the earth and has to be re-tinned every so often and all that.

You're probably right, however, the tin would melt off into your food at the temperatures that make teflon dangerous. I'm not sure, but am I right in thinking that it's a bad thing to ingest tin?

Of course, Dupont will have an interesting spin on this one. They LOVE to abuse the ecological community in ways even I can't twist logic (remember R-12 Freon? Great timing on all the CFC scare, huh?).
posted by shepd at 5:11 PM on November 15, 2003


I'm not sure, but am I right in thinking that it's a bad thing to ingest tin?

It's ferdamshure not healthy to eat molten tin.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:17 PM on November 15, 2003


As someone who eats out 13 times a week, I figure it's out of my hands so why worry? :-)
posted by Voivod at 10:24 PM on November 15, 2003


As long as this does not affect my supply of underpants and stockings made with Imipolex G, I am not concerned that this is a serious problem.
posted by crunchburger at 10:50 PM on November 15, 2003


Cast iron skillets are lousy for flat topped stoves. (Unless you like a nicely scuffed up flat topped stove). I'm pretty content with my aluminum core stainless steel pots and pans. Plus, I can stick it in the dishwasher, because I'll be damned if I'm doing dishes by hand.
posted by piper28 at 11:29 PM on November 15, 2003


What confuses me is the constant mention of "Teflon", and only brief mention of "Silverstone". The evolution of nonstick cookware went from Teflon (brown) to Teflon II (black) to Silverstone.

In the 70's a French company called T-Fall was marketing pans that were not coated, but made from some strange non-stick substance. The company is still around, but their pans are no longer made that way. I never heard why those pans disappeared.

My personal chronic complaint on this subject is about countertop appliances. No one seems to make much, if any, (especially griddles or waffle irons) NOT coated with nonstick finish. For a griddle, non-stick is very inferior. The non-stick finish wears poorly and all too soon, the griddle is trashed.
posted by Goofyy at 12:35 AM on November 16, 2003


piper28, I envy you for having the choice to do dishes by hand or not. :D

Personally, I just don't like Teflon pans. I love my copper bottom pots and my iron skillets, and I never have any problems with anything sticking to them.
posted by Orb at 1:36 AM on November 16, 2003


I think that stoves can get much hotter than the oven.

I was watching a show, forgot what it was called, but it was like cops, but for firemen. In one day they had to go to two homes were people had left pots on the stove, and then gone to sleep. Both times had tons of smoke, and one of them managed to burn through the bottom of the pot completly.
posted by Iax at 3:11 AM on November 16, 2003


I like copper-bottom Revereware. They're relatively cheap, last forever, and the inside is stainless steel, so I can soak 'em today and clean 'em tomorrow. I replaced all of my teflon pots and pans with these a few years ago, and I have no desire to go back. Teflon pans are perhaps a tad easier to clean, but they eventually get scratched up, and then they're pretty much worthless. The Revereware looks almost new after three years, though. I didn't bother to use copper cleaner on the bottom, so they're not shiny anymore, but the cooking surface is still just fine. Much better, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by vorfeed at 3:53 PM on November 16, 2003


« Older Nirvana to blame for industry's focus on image?...  |  Time Tales... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments