We recently did a blog on the nasty chemicals—PFOA and PTFE, specifically, linked to thyroid disruption and cancer—found in conventional nonstick cookware and in the bodies of the general American population. Many of our readers weighed in with questions and comments of their own, which we address here.
We previously stated that silicone cookware and therefore the new GreenPan, which contains silicone, have additional ingredients that aren’t listed on the label, which always makes us a little nervous. Since then, we’ve found out more. GreenPan is made of oxygen, silicone, carbon, aluminum, and titanium. A representative from the company that invented Thermolon, the nonstick coating on GreenPans, told us: “Silicone (Si) is not on the list of ingredients of Thermolon. Instead, silicone is in combination with other elements to form a harmless ceramic material…”
O.K., whatever. At least ceramic coatings generally don’t evaporate or leach. More importantly, GreenPan promises that its ceramics are PFOA- and PTFE-free; the company commissioned a few third-party studies, two from universities in both Hong Kong and
So while we’d always prefer to see results of independent third-party tests (such as those by Consumer Reports, Environmental Working Group or certifiers such as Green Seal or Cradle to Cradle), rather than tests a company has paid for themselves, we think GreenPan is clearly a safer and greener alternative to conventional nonstick coatings.
What about other cookware technology touted as PFOA-free?
This can be greenwashing. Because consumers are now aware that PFOA is a carcinogen and is present in their pans, companies are scrambling to market new non-PFOA cookware. But here’s the question: what’s replacing the PFOA?
According to the Environmental Working Group's extensive report on PFOA replacements, the Food and Drug Administration approved eight new fluorochemicals between 2005 and 2007 intended to replace PFOA-based food packaging and pans. But there was no third-party certification or public assessment of the safety of these new chemicals. At least one—perfluorohexanoic acid (also called PFHxA or C6)—is known to be persistent in the environment, cross over from a mother to her unborn fetus, and may be more toxic to aquatic organisms than PFOA.
The greenwashing of the cookware industry is intense. According to our source at GreenPan, many companies are coating their nonstick pans with PTFE, but then adding small ceramic particles. They tout their products as PFOA-free, ceramic-coated, which sounds safe to consumers worried about toxics in their cookware, when in reality they may be no better than the old PFOA-coated models.
I have Emerilware Hard Anodized Pans and their website says they don’t used PFOAs to make the nonstick. Is there another toxic chemical they use instead?
Anodized pans are sometimes listed separately from the nonstick products on cookware websites, leading one to believe that anodized pans are different and perhaps better than conventional nonstick cookware. We were unable to contact the makers of Emerilware, so we called the popular cookware company Calphalon and inquired about their anodized pans. They confirmed that either PFOA or PTFE is present in the coating. So anodized pans don’t seem to be a safe alternative to conventional nonstick.
Safer Cookware Alternatives
Safer Cookware Alternatives
Le Creuset enamel cookware: www.lecreuset.com/usa/products/guide.php
Calphalon stainless steel: calphalon.com
Crate & Barrel’s Mario Batali enamel: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/chefs-pans-everyday-pans/kitchen-accessories/1
Previous GreenerPenny blog: http://greenerpenny.blogspot.com/
EPA PFOA warnings: http://www.epa.gov/nheerl/rtd/rtd_perf.html
PFOA in general population: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/pfoa/
Environmental Working Group’s report: http://www.ewg.org/reports/teflongreenwash
By Island Girl
Thank you. Please keep your questions and comments coming, and tell your friends to visit http://www.greenerpenny.com/