Skip Nonstick Pans

High Heat Emits Toxic Particles and Gases

Nonstick cookware, popular because it’s convenient to use and clean, also emits toxic fumes when overheated. Tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have shown that in just two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other nonstick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases. They posit that the same holds true for ovenware. At the same time, the researchers report that ingesting inert particles that have come off scratched cookware isn’t a hazard.

EWG’s recommended alternatives are stainless steel and cast iron cookware. However, for families stuck with nonstick pots and pans, the group offers the following tips:

Never preheat nonstick cookware empty or at high heat and make sure to cook food at the lowest possible temperature possible for safe cooking. Don’t put nonstick cookware in an oven hotter than 500 degrees and use an exhaust fan. Keep pet birds out of the kitchen, because they are particularly susceptible to the fumes.

For a free downloadable Guide to PFCs (perfluorochemicals) and how to avoid them in a wide range of products, including cookware, visit

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