Read the full article by Carla Delgado (Popular Science)

“Non-stick cookware is often a kitchen favorite because food doesn’t stick to its surface—making it easy to whip up dinner without a huge cleaning hassle. The kitchen essential has grown in popularity since scientists created the first non-stick cooking pan in 1954, but the COVID-19 pandemic drove a surge. The market demand for non-stick cookware reached 206.1 million units worldwide in 2020 and is expected to increase even more due to the growing preference for it. 

The non-stick coating is made of a synthetic fluoropolymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), more commonly known under the brand name Teflon. A 2022 report from the non-profit organization Ecology Center shows that 79 percent of non-stick cooking pans and 20 percent of non-stick baking pans were coated with PTFE. 

In a new Science of The Total Environment study, the authors simulated the cooking process with different non-stick pots and pans using turners made of different materials, like steel or wood. They found that non-stick cookware mainly coated with Teflon may release about 9100 plastic particles during the cooking process if it has a surface crack. Should something break the coating, around 2,300,000 microplastics and nanoplastics may be released and potentially find their way into food.

These cracks are a problem because PTFE falls under per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals that don’t break down in the environment, contaminate soil and water and build up in the bodies of living creatures. Once millions of PFAS plastic particles are released, they will circulate in the ecosystem for a long time, which explains why they are commonly dubbed “forever chemicals.” Its widespread occurrence in the environment may increase human exposure to PFAS, potentially leading to health impacts like altered metabolism, increased risk of being overweight or obese, and reduced ability to fight infections.” …