Non-Stick Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be! Ron & Lisa Unscramble PFC’s on NBC’s Nightly News

by Ron & Lisa Beres on January 26, 2012 · 6 comments

Non-Stick Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be Ron and Lisa Unscramble PFC’s on NBC’s Nightly News

PFCs — Perflourinated Compounds are a manmade family of fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain and stick resistant.  PFC’s (including PFOA & PFOS) are widely used in manufactured products such as non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, fast-food packaging, and even personal care items including shaving crème, pressed powder, lotions and dental floss.  PFC’s are ubiquitous and have been found in food, air, and drinking water.  Most Americans have these chemical compounds in their bodies.

Are you still stuck on non-stick cookware?  If so, you may be surprised to learn most nonstick pans begin to break down and release toxic gases and particulates into the air at a temperature of only 446° F and can cause flu-like symptoms known as “polymer fume fever.” These toxic fumes can kill pet birds.  PFOA, the chemical used in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware, is actually a breakdown product of PFCs. A highly persistent environmental toxin, it accumulates in the human body over many years, and has been detected in close to 98% of the population tested. PFOA is classified as a likely carcinogen and has been shown to cause cancer in animal studies.

As if PFC’s in our products, environments and bodies were not bad enough, a new study (to appear in the January 25, 2012 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association) finds that perfluorinated compounds were associated with lowered immune response to vaccinations in children. It is the first study to document how PFCs, which can be transferred to children prenatally (via the mother) and postnatally from exposure in the environment, can adversely affect vaccine response.

“We were surprised by the steep negative associations, which suggest that PFCs may be more toxic to the immune system than current dioxin exposures,” said study lead author Philippe Grandjean, adjunct professor of environmental health at Harvard School of Public Health.

We visited the Schooley family and shared tips on eliminating PFC’s throughout their home environment on NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams.

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Tips to Avoid PFC’s

    1. Cook with cast iron and food-grade stainless steel for cooking and glass or earthenware for baking.
    2. Choose furnishings made without stain-resistant coatings; made from natural fibers that naturally repell water (ie: wool).  Also, forgo added stain treatments on carpeting.
    3. Avoid personal care products with ‘PTFE’ or ‘fluoro’ or ‘perfluoro’ in the ingredients.  Is yours on the list?  Find out HERE
    4. Choose real plates instead of coated or ‘grease resistant’ paper.
    5. Visit Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to PFC’s HERE
    6. For more cookware alternatives, visit Just GREEN It! or, enter our Ultimate Shopping Guide Giveaway to win your own signed copy!

Through the EPA’s Stewardship Program, eight of the companies currently using PFOA had made a voluntarily agreed to reduce PFOA releases by 2010.  However, they are not required to eliminate them until 2015. Although a step in the right directly, these chemicals will, unfortunately ‘stick’ around for years to come since they are persistent; resistant to breaking down  in the environment.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina "The Book Lady" January 27, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I read your article early this morning and checked out the website that shares what products use PFC’s. Circulon (the line of cookware I use) was listed and so I contacted them to ask if it still did as the website report was from 2003.

Here is their comment:
“Hi Tina, thanks for the question. PFCs are a class of compound of which PFOA is one. PFOA is a processing aid that has been used to manufacture certain types of nonstick coating in the past but is not currently used to make Circulon nonstick coatings.”

Here is an earlier comment they listed on their FB page:
Jay – Here is a link to PFOA info for anyone who’s interested: Are you saying (Circulon) that you don’t use ANY PFOA’s such as the kind mentioned on that link in your manufacturing process? Just want to be clear. Thanks.

Circulon – Jay, please note that the article you reference has some errors. For instance, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) has never been used in the manufacture of nonstick coatings for cookware, and PFOS is NOT used to manufacture the nonstick coating for Circulon. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also called perfluorooctanoate) was previously used in the manufacture of nonstick coating for cookware, but is NOT currently used to manufacture the nonstick coating for Circulon cookware. We hope this answers your concerns.


Ron & Lisa January 27, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Hello Tina,
Thank you for sharing this as I’m sure others who use this Circulon brand will appreciate your follow through with the manufacturer directly. Note: There is a disclaimer on the above link that states:
“** Legal Disclaimer. The conclusions and findings that appear on this page reflect EWG’s research at the time of publication stated above. In light of evolving market conditions, subsequent product reformulations, and other factors, they may no longer be current. EWG makes no representations or warranties about any of the products that may appear on this page. EWG hereby disclaims all warranties with regard to any of the products that may appear on this page, including express, statutory, implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular use.”

Also, as part of the EPA’s 2010/2015 Stewardship Program listed above, here is the list of the eight major fluoropolymer and telomer manufacturers who have commited to the elimination of these chemicals from emissions and products by 2015.

BASF Corporation (successor to Ciba)
Solvay Solexis


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