Teflon pans emit a chemical called perfluooctanoic acid (PFOA), which was previously thought to be harmful, especially when the pan was extremely hot. Consumer Reports tested Teflon pans and found that PFOA emissions were minimal and therefore posed no serious health risk. PFOA is harmful, but is not a problem in Teflon pans.
Chemical manufacturer Dupont have found that Teflon and other nonstick services emit six toxic gase sunder high heat, and one of the toxins emitted (perfluooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA) has been linked to thyroid disease. Although there is no current restrictions on the use of PFOA on consumer products, this toxin can be harmful and can even kill pet birds.
To be safe, if you are cooking with Teflon pans it is important to not cook using very high heat and to not use the pan if the Teflon is coming off or where it has already come off.
It has been determined that Teflon pans, when heated enough, may release any of 15 toxic gases, beginning at 396 degrees Farenheit. These gases are known to kill domestically kept birds and cause “polymer fume flu” (which has symptoms similar to normal flu) in humans. One of the chemicals that can be emitted from overheated pans is PFOA, which was declared a “likely carcinogen” by the EPA in 2005. DuPont, the manufacturer of Teflon, argues that the 680F degree temperature required to release PFOA from pans constitutes improper use.
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