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Monday, February 06, 2006 

Don't Toss That Teflon Pan -- Yet

(Sorry we missed the Seattle side of Super Bowl food on Friday, it turned out to be a crazy day.)

There has been some talk of late that a certain chemical in Teflon-coated pans could actually be harmful to you. The Washington Post asked "Food 101" columnist and chemistry professor Robert L. Wolke for his take on the matter.

He tells us in part:

Teflon is microscopically smooth and nonporous (one of the reasons nothing sticks to it). Even if it does harbor trace amounts of PFOA, which is all anyone has suggested, the PFOA is unlikely to seep into food or escape into the air in kitchens -- unless, of course, an empty nonstick pan were abandoned on a hot burner, because above 600 degrees or so (a temperature rarely reached in cooking), the Teflon would begin to decompose into toxic fumes.

Before we even see a nonstick pan in the store, its coating already has been heated to high temperatures during manufacturing, partly to get rid of any residual PFOA. In my opinion, PFOA in the environment probably came from factory emissions, perhaps during the high-temperature phases of manufacturing. That's certainly more plausible than blaming me for frying an egg in my nonstick pan.

He concludes that this really isn't anything that consumers need worry too much about.