Is GreenPan a safe alternative to toxic Teflon?

BlogHer Original Post

Teflon doesn’t have any enviro-allies these days, since news broke
about the nonstick material’s potential health risks. Why not? Environmental Working Group warns consumers that Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446°F according to DuPont studies — and it only gets worse from there:

At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases,
including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical
lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists
claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings
break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical
analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.

Scarily, a university food professor found that a Teflon pan reached
721°F on a conventional, electric stovetop burner in just 3 minutes and
20 seconds! Since this toxic news made headlines, Dupont’s agreed to
pay a $10.25 million settlement to the U.S. EPA and to virtually eliminate perfluorinated chemicals — the stuff used to make Teflon — by 2015 (via grist).

Teflon’s downfall, of course, meant a whole new bunch of nonstick
pots and pans came clanging into the green kitchen marketplace, all
claiming that they were as unsticky as Teflon but without the nasty
enviro-health effects. One of the most talked-about option’s GreenPan, which uses a nonstick coating called Thermolon that’s totally free of perfluorooctanoic acid.

But is Thermolon safe? The jury’s still out. Plenty’s Jessica A. Knoblauch says GreenPan’s claims pan out — with caveats.
The upside, according to her, is that GreenPan does indeed avoid a lot
of the nastiness of Teflon pans. The downside, however, is that
GreenPan makes use of nanotechnology and silicone, both of which could
pose safety and health risks.

The keyword here is “could” — as in no one really knows yet because
Thermolon’s such a brand spanking new thing — and not all the info
about it has been made available by the company making it.
Environmental Working Group’s scientist Rebecca Sutton, for example,
said she’d like to see GreenPan make more of its data public: “We’d
like to see all the data they provided to FDA, as well as FDA’s
assessments of the product, required for its approval as a food contact
substance.” A discussion of the chemistry of breakdown products would
help too, Rebecca says.

Is the average consumer satisfied with GreenPan’s safety claims? Some, like Lauri of LauriLiau ,
are taking a wait-and-see approach. “I’m not saying Thermolon is
dangerous,” she says, but notes that the stuff’s just been invented.
“We really do not know what material is used in Thermolon.”

Others have already started cooking. EatPlayLove says her GreenPan’s been working fabulously, and The Boston Mamas say they’ve “enjoyed” their GreenPan frypan, which cooked scrambled eggs to “a light, fluffy, and thankfully flake-free perfection.” Even green living expert Danny Seo’s been cooking with GreenPan.

Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray are already selling GreenPans under
their names, so GreenPan products are available through a number of
retailers, ranging from Macy’s to Amazon.
For those not ready to buy into GreenPan, stick to glass or cast iron
cookware — tried and true eco-friendly options that won’t keep you up
wondering if your organic eggs are causing environmental damage.

Top image via ewg.org (PDF); photo of Martha Stewart Collection GreenPan via Macys.com

BlogHer Contributing Editor Siel also blogs at greenLAgirl.com.

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