updates: teflon in your body

14 11 2011

My dad is a chemical engineer and he offered help with the Teflon issue. We emailed back and forth for a couple of days, me asking questions, him answering them, but if we would have been talking over a coffee the conversation would have gone something like this:

-So, I found some information about that Teflon issue you were worried about.

-Oh, great! What did you find?

-It does not harm you.

-Yes, but the studies are done with new cookware utensils, not a few years old.

-The way those studies are made simulate aging of the utensils too. So they still show that Teflon aged for 20 years would not be degraded… but consider that Teflon coated utensils would be done at about 5 years!

-Hum… fine. So, there is no degradation of Teflon in the lab. But what about when you eat it? What about pH changes?

-It is inert at low pH.

-Aha! At low pH, that would be your stomach, but whatever happens at neutral or slightly basic? Like your mouth and intestines?

-Still inert.

So, apparently, according to these studies Teflon would be non-reactive through heat, at least the kind of heat that we use in our kitchens and even if you ate it because, you know, scraping the pans and that, it would still not hurt you at any pH.

We still like our stainless steel pots better, remember the production of Teflon does cause health problems to the workers and environment.




4 responses

15 11 2011

I would think that something as non-sticky as Teflon would be very likely to be quickly passed down the gut, rather than sticking to its walls (as it heard it happens with tomato skins) and causing trouble. And all the scratching crusts from non-teflon coated pans using steel or copper sponges are at least as likely to leave behind tiny metal spikes that could get stuck in our soft internal tissues.

15 11 2011

Yes, I agree, but my main concern was with chemical byproducts that would be released through digestion. Though it seems that it is quite indigestible. But I also think that the thick mucous layer that coats our gut would make it rather hard to get hurt by little petal spikes. After all we do shed a lot of the cells that line our intestine regularly and the stomach has a thick mucous layer.

18 11 2011

There’s so much misinformation out there about the Teflon® brand, I’m not surprised that you are concerned. I’m a representative of DuPont though, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

Regulatory agencies, consumer groups and health associations all have taken a close look at the Teflon® brand. This article highlights what they found — the bottom line is that you can use Teflon® non-stick without worry.


I’d truly be glad to share additional information about it if you are interested, and appreciate your consideration of this comment. Cheers, Sara.

18 11 2011

Hi Sara, and thank you so much for commenting! I did mention the 2007 study in a former post https://sensiblygreen.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/updates-pfoa/ however I was not clear about the age simulation. That is where my father was very helpful at explaining that the aging was also simulated. It is clear to me now that there is no health effect in the consumers, however it seems that there is a health problem for people that work in the manufacturing process, is that right? Do you think you could provide more information about Polymer Fume Fever and the effects of Teflon in the environment?

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