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Cooking is a daily ritual for many, but the choice of cookware can have unintended health consequences. Recently, a viral TikTok video by Dr. Poonam Desai shed light on the potential dangers lurking in our kitchens.
September 15, 2023: Both non-stick and ceramic pans, once considered convenient and safe, can pose health risks when scratched or chipped. This article, tells us of the perils associated with these popular cooking pans, from toxic fumes, to the release of harmful chemicals, and explores how they can increase health risks, including cancer.
Toxic fumes from overheating
When heat turns harmful: Non-stick and ceramic pans are coated with a polymer to make them non-stick. However, overheating these pans can cause the polymer to breakdown, and release toxic fumes. The fumes can lead to a condition known as polymer fume fever, with symptoms resembling the flu, including chills, fever, headache, and body aches.
Coating chip and food contamination
The danger of chipped coatings: The coatings on non-stick and ceramic pans are not invincible. When they chip or flake off, the underlying metal, often aluminum or copper, comes into contact with your food. It can be harmful, particularly when ingesting these metals.
Harmful chemicals in coatings
Hidden chemicals in plain sight: Some non-stick pans use PTFE coatings, linked to health problems like cancer, thyroid issues, and fertility problems due to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Ceramic pans, too, can contain harmful chemicals such as lead or cadmium, posing health risks to users.
Microplastic leaching from scratched pans
The Microplastic menace: Dr. Poonam Desai’s TikTok video drew attention to a lesser-known danger: scratched non-stick pans can leach microplastics into our food. These microplastics are endocrine disruptors, capable of causing hormone imbalances, fertility issues, and increasing the risk of cancer.
Aluminum leaching in ceramic pans
The unseen threat in ceramic pans: Ceramic pans, often considered a safer alternative, have their own risks. Scratched ceramic cookware can expose the layer of aluminum underneath. Aluminum leaching into food may have links to health problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, as indicated by some research.
Rethinking cookware choices
A call for informed cooking: The revelation of potential health hazards in seemingly harmless cookware calls for a reassessment of our choices in the kitchen. While non-stick and ceramic pans offer convenience, their risks when damaged are real. Users are urged to exercise caution, handle cookware with care, and consider alternatives that prioritize health and safety.
Cooking should nourish, not harm. Dr. Poonam Desai’s TikTok warning underscores the importance of understanding the risks associated with our cookware. Whether it’s toxic fumes, harmful chemicals, or microplastics, our kitchen choices can impact our health. It’s time to be vigilant, make informed decisions, and prioritise safety in our culinary endeavors to ensure that the joy of cooking remains untainted by hidden dangers.