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The chemical industry doesn’t want you to be afraid of Teflon pans. You should be. |

The chemical industry doesn’t want you to be afraid of Teflon pans. You should be.

There are a slew of chemical acronyms here, so let’s review: The chemicals involved in nonstick pans are known as PFAs, shorthand for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. There are many different subclasses of these chemicals, but they all start with “PF”; the Centers for Disease Control factsheet includes details on perfluorosulfonates (PFOs) and perfluorocarboxylic acids like PFOA and PFNA. The specific molecule chains are less important than what these molecules do — which is, namely, reduce friction. In creating surfaces with relatively little friction (thanks to the fluoride atoms), PFAs have tremendous industrial application beyond cooking an omelet; famously, they were used in the uranium refining process in the United States to manufacture A-bombs. PFAs don’t occur naturally, either: unlike some contaminants that existed on Earth long before humans (e.g., lead and mercury), there were no polyfluoroalkyl substances on Earth prior to industrial civilization. It is a testament to global capitalism that virtually everyone in the developed world now has these contaminants coursing through their veins.

Category: Cookware Pans  Tags: ,  Comments off
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