It’s important to periodically check your non-stick, Teflon® coated cookware for any signs of damage to the surface coating. Cookware produced before 2013 is likely to contain small amounts of a chemical called Perfluorooctanoic Acid or PFOA which, in substantial quantities, has been linked with cancer.

What are Teflon® and PFOA?

Teflon® is a brand name used for a group of man-made chemicals, the most common of which is polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE. PTFE has been in commercial use since the 1940s. It has a wide variety of uses because it doesn't react with other chemicals and can provide an almost frictionless surface. Teflon® is used in thousands of products from cookware to fabric protectors.

Perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA is another man-made chemical. It has been used in the process of making Teflon although it is burned off during the process and is not present in significant amounts in the final products.

PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present worldwide at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood.

According to the American Cancer Society, Non-stick cookware is not a significant source of PFOA exposure and other than the possible risk of flu-like symptoms from breathing in fumes from an overheated Teflon-coated pan, there are no proven risks to humans from using cookware coated with Teflon (or other non-stick surfaces). While PFOA was used in the past in the US in making Teflon (before 2013), it is not present (or is present in extremely small amounts) in Teflon-coated products produced after this time

How to avoid damaging the non-stick coatings.

The best way to ensure that your cookware lasts a lifetime is to only use plastic or wooden utensils when cooking. Soak any stubborn stains before cleaning and avoid using abrasive cooking or cleaning products.