Is Teflon toxic? How to use Teflon-coated cookware and what to use instead

In 2006, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) called for the removal of the harmful PFOA substance used in the production of Teflon. It is a hazardous substance that can lead to cancer, thyroid, kidney, and liver disease. Is Teflon still dangerous today?

Teflon is a material from the group of fluorine polymers created in 1938. It is a stable compound, waterproof, resistant to sticking and chemicals, and is used to coat many products, such as kitchen utensils, earrings, implants, lubricants, sealing materials, and sliding materials. Other names for it include tarflen and fluon.

Is Teflon harmful?

Teflon is hazardous due to occupational exposure to the material and chemicals used in its production. It can cause teflon flu, which can cause headaches, chills, fever, coughing, and chest pain. It does not cause cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Teflon was never the primary concern, but rather the chemicals used to create it. This is especially true of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is no longer used in the production of Teflon (as of 2013). Small amounts of it, however, can still be found in our dishes. PFOA is capable of being absorbed and accumulated in the body.

PFOA has potentially harmful effects on human health:

  • has a carcinogenic effect (an increased risk of testicular cancer, prostate cancer, uterine cancer, kidney and thyroid cancer has been found),
  • damages the thyroid gland,
  • reduces fertility,
  • can cause liver and kidney diseases,
  • increases the level of cholesterol in the blood,
  • leads to disorders of the immune system.

PFOA is a chemical commonly found in the human environment, and can be found in kitchen utensils, cosmetics, packaging, paper plates, waterproof fabrics and upholstery. It is not unique to Teflon, but can be found in other materials such as dental floss, cosmetics, packaging, paper plates, waterproof fabrics, and upholstery.

How to use teflon cookware

What to do to minimize the possible harmful effects of Teflon on health? Follow a few rules when using Teflon-coated cookware in the kitchen:

  • throw away worn and scratched dishes ,
  • consider replacing Teflon cookware with cast iron, stone, stainless steel or carbon steel ,
  • avoid heating to very high temperatures for long periods of time,
  • do not heat a dry pan , there should always be some liquid or fat on it,
  • fry on low or medium heat,
  • use a hood or open a window when frying/cooking,
  • use wooden or silicone kitchen utensils instead of metal ones, which damage the Teflon surface faster,
  • do not use sharp abrasive sponges to clean Teflon,
  • you can also resign  from using Teflon utensils and replace them with others.


4th Professional Medical Student. Karachi Medical and Dental College.

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