Q. Still Wondering About Teflon Safety? Are Nonstick Pans Safe?

By Sarah H. McClain, August/September 2006

Still Wondering About Teflon Safety?  Are nonstick pans safe?

A. The answer is not clear-cut, but we’re hanging on to ours. Here’s why:

Tests have shown that, when superheated (to temperatures above 550°F), nonstick-coated pans release gaseous fumes, which have been linked to flulike symptoms in humans and the deaths of pet birds. The problem appears to lie with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in the processing of Teflon and other nonstick cookware. PFOA has many other applications—it is used, for example, in the package coating of some brands of microwaveable popcorn, in water-resistant clothing and in some building materials. Trace amounts of PFOA have been found in the blood of virtually every American tested, but it is not known if cookware is the main culprit. The EPA has reached a voluntary agreement with eight manufacturers of PFOA worldwide to eliminate the chemical from all consumer goods by 2015.

Research by both public entities (the EPA) and private companies (DuPont, makers of Teflon) is under way to better understand the danger PFOA in cookware poses to consumers. In the meantime, Karen Collins, R.D., nutrition advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research, says, “It is a concern, and it merits continued attention, but there simply isn’t enough data to know whether or not it poses a risk.”

In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we are taking what we feel is a sensible but cautious approach.

Since problems seem to be linked with superheating the pans, we avoid doing so. We never heat an empty pan, and never heat oil to its smoking point. In other words, we keep the heat under 550°F. We also use only utensils approved for nonstick surfaces, which minimizes flaking. But for cooks looking for an alternative, a well-seasoned cast-iron pan is a good choice.


What about the ceramic non stick pans that are adbvertised. How do they compare?


04/15/2012 - 3:44pm

I like my greenpans They do not use PFOA's and perform very well. Also oven safe! Just beware of imitators, there are a lot of "green" pans, look for the trademarked "greenpans"


05/28/2013 - 12:35pm

Well, I got a Greenpan and loved it at first, so I invested in a few more. They wre the trademarked "greenpan" brand and I splurged on the heaver weight ones. They were great for a short time then they started sticking. I never put them in the dishwasher, and I wash them like teflon, leaving a film of oil. They just don't work. I have recently noticed that the TV Show Chopped uses greenpans exclusively and I notice that the chefs are often commenting "I didn't expect this to stick" or "I had a really hard time getting my food out of the pan". I just can't recommend them any more. I do also have a ceramic coated pan and it's quite good. Not as nonstick as new teflon, but quite good. It stains quickly, though, so it doesn't look all that "pretty" after a few uses.


07/02/2013 - 10:22am

Sorry, I should have clarified that Greenpans ARE ceramic coated. The ceramic pan I referred to was a Bialetti pan with a bright white ceramic lining. It's pretty good. Also, I have two Le Creuset nonstick cast iron pans which are lined with black enamel and they are excellent. They aren't, however, quite non-stick enough for eggs.


07/02/2013 - 10:22am

No way! I will never use any store bought cookware again...metals leaching into your foods! Saladmaster is the only cookware you should be eating from.


02/24/2014 - 2:26am

can the fume cause cancer


06/10/2014 - 1:59pm

Princess House Products have a Non-Stick made with NO PFOA and I have used them for 8 years, we also have enamel backed cast Iron and classic stainless steel. I had Colon Cancer twice before and my father passed away from it. NOW that I have switched, NO more Cancer. I believe that we have PFOA in our blood streams and many landfills are so full of it in OLD Teflon lined pans some are refusing to recycle the pans. Firefighters are taught of the dangers in training and wear masks. Some of my teachers had training for next years classes and were told of the dangers this very year and did not know it until I had told them first. Check out our products at


06/15/2015 - 5:19pm

What about PFAS? They are just as bad. And any chemical they have used to replace PFOAs. I would avoid all together. And the ones coated in ceramic are highly likely full of lead. Which of course if very bad to consume ANY lead. Especially for children. All these evils out there and you switch from one and learn you've just been exposing yourself to another one.


01/13/2016 - 2:07pm

how about the Copper Chef pan.. I just got one and it works great, but not sure of the safety


08/31/2016 - 10:40am

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