20 May 2003
pans can create a sticky situation when overheated
By Elizabeth Weise
story in USA Today
environmental group has asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission
to require warnings on non-stick cookware informing consumers of
the hazards they can pose to pet birds, and potentially humans,
copy of EWG petition]
have long known that overheating non-stick cookware produces toxins
that can kill birds. The syndrome is so well documented that it
is included in the standard veterinary text on the subject, Avian
Medicine: Principles and Applications.
almost like a bomb blast — the birds that are further away
from the kitchen will show fewer signs, while the birds closer will
die," says Darrel Styles, an avian veterinarian at Texas A&M
University. Exposure to the fumes causes the birds' lungs to fill
with fluid and can cause death within minutes, Styles says.
Washington, D.C.-based Environmental
Working Group would
like that knowledge to be more widespread, especially because in
people, breathing such fumes results in what's known as "polymer
fume fever," a short illness that mimics the flu with fever,
chills, shivering, chest discomfort, cough and sore throat.
pans have never been meant for high-heat cooking, as the instructions
on any pan label will show.
recommend cooking using coated non-stick cookware at low to medium
heat," says Dupont's Rich Angiullo. "We know (our product)
can withstand temperatures up to 500 F, well above any of the recommended
temperatures for frying or baking."
recommendations and reality don't always coincide, says Environmental
Working Group president Ken Cook. "We're still searching for
the person who has never left a pan on a stove top and had it get
fact, a 1982 paper published in the American Journal of Veterinary
Research by R. E. Wells of Michigan State University finds that
non-stick cookware begins to break down at 536 degrees.
temperatures are generally not reached in routine kitchen use, but
can be reached in a few minutes when such cookware, if dry, were
inadvertently exposed to domestic heat sources," Wells wrote.
with Underwriters Laboratories say that all UL-certified electric
ranges should bring a pan to 475 degrees when the knob is turned
to two-thirds high, and that maximum heat would probably exceed
test done last week by the Environmental Working Group found that
a cold non-stick pan placed on a cold burner that was then turned
on high reached 736 degrees in three minutes and 20 seconds.