You have a wonderful assortment of organic, local vegetables that you are ready to cook.  You pour a little olive oil into your non-stick pan and saute your veggies. What do you get? Delicious sauteed veggies with a side of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Wait, what?

What is PFOA?

PFOA is the chemical used to make the non-stick coating on cookware (pots, pans, muffin tins, baking sheets, etc.) and electric cooking appliances (griddles, indoor grills, sandwich makers, etc.). Products with Teflon can contain levels of the chemical or similar chemicals (such as Polytetrafluoroethylene or “PTFE”). PFOA is widely used in other products such as carpet, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant clothing, and in water repellents for fabric and upholstery.

We are exposed to PFOA through drinking water, air, dust, food packaging, breast milk, umbilical cord blood, and microwave popcorn. When non-stick cookware is exposed to high heat, the chemical gets into the air and there can be a risk of PFOA exposure.

Why Does PFOA Pose a Risk to my Health?

On the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, this is what they have to say about PFOA:

“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as “C8,” is a synthetic chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment… EPA has been investigating PFOA because it:

  • Is very persistent in the environment
  • Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
  • Remains in people for a very long time
  • Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.”

When tested, the chemical has been found in all or virtually all people’s blood, including newborn infants. Many animal and human studies over the years have shown that PFOA may cause a multitude of health concerns. These include, low birth rates, developmental delays, various forms of cancer, tumors, and liver toxicity; although the makers of PFOA maintain that the chemical is safe for humans and there is no reason for concern.

PFOA and Children

A recent September 2010 study from the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center studied 12, 476 children
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