A new study published by the General Environmental Science joutnal found that non-stick cookware can release millions of micro-plastics and nan into food if the coating cracks.
The market demand for non-stick cooking appliances reached 206.1 million units globally in 2020, and with its growing preference, the demand is expected to increase further.
The non-stick coating, known as Teflon, is made from a synthetic fluoropolymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
The study found that non-stick cookware coated with Teflon can release around 9,100 plastic particles during cooking if they are broken.
If something breaks the coating, around 2,300,000 microplastics and nanoplastics can be released, which can eventually end up in food. PFAS, a group of chemicals that do not degrade in the environment, pollute soil and water and accumulate in the bodies of living organisms.
PFAS are found under all fluorinated and fluorinated substances and are also known as “persistent chemicals” due to their widespread presence in the environment.
“To avoid contaminating food or the environment with plastic particles from PTFE cookware, home cooks should use spatulas or soft utensils that do not scratch the surface during cooking and baking, cleaning. If there are scratches on the kitchen utensils, it is recommended to change,” he explains. Cheng Fang, a senior researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
The study also revealed that the coating can release toxic chemicals into the air when it reaches high temperatures.
Peaslee, a professor of physics at the University of Notre Dame, suggests reassessing the importance of Teflon-coated cookware, saying it may have been marketed as a new technology in the 1950s. Still, the cast worked just as well.
There are possible alternatives that will harm the environment less and will not use the fluoropolymer industry, such as ceramic or stainless steel. “In our daily lives, we have a lot of plastic around us,” Fang adds.
“Many of them can slowly release microplastics and nanoplastics in their lifetime, as tested and proven in this study.” Therefore, reducing the use of plastic and improving the recycling process must be a high priority.