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Say No to Non-Stick Cookware for Good Health

Non-stick cookware has revolutionized kitchens worldwide, offering a convenient and low-fat cooking solution. But this might come with a cost. Recently, ICMR and NIN have issued guidelines that advise against its use.

Sarbani Bhattacharjee
Say No to Non-Stick Cookware for Good Health (This image has been created with MidJourney)
Say No to Non-Stick Cookware for Good Health (This image has been created with MidJourney)

Non-Stick cookware with its easy-to-clean surface, has become a staple in many households. However, the recent guidelines from the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) have raised concerns about its safety, urging consumers to reconsider its use due to emerging health risks.

Toxic Fumes and Overheating:

One of the primary concerns with non-stick cookware is the potential release of toxic fumes when heated to high temperatures. Non-stick coatings, such as Teflon, often contain chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). When these pans are overheated, they can emit fumes that may cause polymer fume fever, also known as the "Teflon flu," which manifests with flu-like symptoms. Inhaling these fumes has been linked to respiratory issues, thyroid disorders, and other health problems.

Chemical Leaching:

The non-stick surface of cookware is typically coated with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which provides slick, non-stick properties. However, this coating can degrade over time, especially when exposed to high heat or abrasive cleaning methods. As the coating wears off, there is a risk of harmful chemicals leaching into the food. This risk is heightened when cooking acidic foods or using metal utensils, causing the gradual breakdown of the non-stick surface.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS):

PFOA, previously used in Teflon production, is part of a broader class of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). While PFOA has largely been phased out, other PFAS compounds may still be present in some non-stick cookware. PFAS have been linked to various health issues, including cancer, liver damage, and immune system effects. The potential long-term exposure to these chemicals through cookware is a significant concern.

Environmental Risks:

Aside from health concerns, non-stick cookware poses environmental risks. PFAS are not easily discarded and can accumulate over time, leading to widespread contamination. This persistence raises concerns about the ecological impact of these substances, affecting wildlife and water supplies.

Switch to Safer Alternatives:

Given the potential risks associated with non-stick cookware, it is advisable to consider safer, eco-friendly alternatives. Stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic cookware are excellent options that do not carry the same health risks as non-stick coatings. These materials offer durability and do not release harmful chemicals when heated, making them safer for both health and the environment.

While non-stick cookware offers convenience, the potential health risks associated with its use cannot be ignored.

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