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Information on safety of non-stick cookware

March 2007

In general, non-stick cookware contains a surface chemical coating. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the homopolymer of tetrafluoroethylene and is used as an ingredient in the coating on non-stick cookware.

 

There has been considerable interest in the possibility of adverse health effects following exposure to fumes released when non-stick coated cookware is used for cooking. However, fumes are released only when cookware is heated to extremely high temperatures (340C to 650C) which in fact would incinerate food. There are claims that non-stick coatings contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which is released when coated cookware is heated to temperatures above 180C. However available evidence indicates that no PFOA would be released from cookware at or below normal cooking temperatures.

 

A research paper released in early 2007 reports that, under experimental conditions, PFOA was detected at trace levels in air collected just above some non-stick pans which were heated to higher-than-normal cooking temperatures; the level of PFOA was very low and not expected to cause any adverse health effects.

 

As general good practice, consumers are advised not to overheat empty non-stick pans or leave them unattended on the stovetop (especially at high settings). Based on information currently available, there is no risk to the health of consumers using non-stick cookware under normal cooking conditions.

 

NICNAS continues to monitor new data as it becomes available.

 

More information:

 

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