Non-stick pots and pans that are covered with Teflon gradually lose their coating during use and washing, and this can become a problem when preparing food; However, it is difficult to quantify the amount of plastic that is released.
A new study examines microplastics (particles smaller than 5 mm) and nanoplastics (millions of times smaller) and concludes that we are likely to encounter large numbers of plastic particles over time. Yuhong Tonga mechanical and materials engineer from Flinders University, Australia, says: “These results give us a serious warning that to avoid food contamination, we must be careful in choosing and using cooking utensils.”
The researchers used the “Raman imaging technique” to study microplastics and nanoplastics on the Teflon coating at the molecular level. They also used custom algorithms to calculate how much of this coating might be released and enter the food.
The researchers cut Teflon-coated kitchen utensils into small pieces and, in order to simulate the cooking process (albeit without food, water, or oil), used spatulas of various materials (such as stainless steel, plastic, and wood) to simulate the cooking process. They moved on them for a certain period of time. According to the numbers, based on just 30 seconds of cooking time, a broken Teflon coating can release 2.3 million fine particles during food preparation.
Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene) belongs to a family of chemicals called Immortal chemicals It is said that they remain in the environment for a very long time. Not to mention, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) are associated with various health problems. Cheng Fang“Given the fact that PFAS are a big concern, tiny Teflon particles in our food may be a health concern,” says a materials engineer scientist at the University of Newcastle, Australia.
While there are still questions about how common and dangerous this release of microplastics and nanoplastics is, researchers are calling for more research into the effects of possible contamination during cooking.
Old pots and pans may need to be discarded after a certain period of time, or the Teflon coating should be made to be more resistant to scratches caused by washing and use. “Given that Teflon is a member of the PFAS family, further research is recommended to investigate the risk posed by Teflon microplastics and nanoplastics,” says Tang.
This research in the journal Science of the Total Environment It’s been published.