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7 Things in Your Kitchen That Are Making You Sick (Slideshow)

7 Things in Your Kitchen That Are Making You Sick (Slideshow)

These silent killers could be making you sick in your own kitchen

The potential for a breeding ground of germs awaits a homeowner on their cutting board, especially if they believe that the danger lies only with wooden boards. In fact, wooden boards are just fine, so long as they are cleaned properly. The issue arises when cutting boards are improperly cared for after use. The USDA recommends the following: "Wash them with hot, soapy water after each use (especially after chicken); then rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Both wooden and plastic cutting boards can be sanitized with a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Flood the surface with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels."

Cutting Boards

The potential for a breeding ground of germs awaits a homeowner on their cutting board, especially if they believe that the danger lies only with wooden boards. The issue arises when cutting boards are improperly cared for after use. Rinse with clear water and air dry or pat dry with clean paper towels."

Sponges

While sponges are fabulous for wiping up messes, their moisture can contain a ton of foodborne pathogens that harbor and spread bacteria. The USDA-recommended remedy is very simple: run your sponge through a dishwashing cycle or nuke it in the microwave. Both will kill germs that live inside the sponge effectively.

Refrigerators

Just because the environment is cold doesn’t mean that there aren’t dangerous germs and foods hiding in your refrigerator. Refrigerators must be kept at 40 degrees to keep foods from developing bacteria, according to the FDA. Unfortunately, there are a multitude of factors that make maintaining the refrigerator temperature a challenge. Simple things like not overpacking the fridge, wiping up any spills, and keeping food covered are all small things families can do to make the kitchen a healthier place.

Plastic Containers

Every household lives for leftovers, but you may want to reconsider saving food in plastic Tupperware. Unfortunately, many of the older plastic containers we use for our foods contain a certain amount of BPA that can taint food or make you sick. Be sure to look out for products labeled BPA free. Some, but not all, unlabeled plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.

Microwave Popcorn

It isn’t the popcorn’s fault that the average bag of microwave popcorn is laced with a plethora of dangerous chemicals. However, the bag’s lining is loaded with them, and particularly featured are the dangerous chemical fluorotelomers, which the EPA deemed carcinogens. The danger lies in the plume of steam that escapes the bag. To avoid, simply just allow the bag to cool before opening.

Dirty Counters

iStock/Thinkstock

We hate to tell you this, but spending hours disinfecting your kitchen can still leave you with dirty countertops. While counters help create the space you need to make a marvelous meal, they can also be mistaken as an extended shelf for all of your family's things. Seemingly harmless objects can transport bacteria, so make sure you keep only food and related kitchen items on the countertop.

Reusable Shopping Bags

They may be fabulous for the environment, but they aren’t so hot for you. For instance, reusing a bag that once carried raw meat poses the threat of cross-contamination. If you are going to use these environmentally conscious totes, make sure that all food placed into the bag is properly covered, they are washed once a week, and they're kept out of the trunk of your hot car.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.


This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows

There's a good chance that one of your go-to items in the kitchen could create health risks.

iStock

Whipping up a great meal at home is so much easier when you have the right tools handy. And that's also true when it comes to cutting down on cleaning time, which is why there's a very good chance you've got some non-stick cookware in your arsenal. But while they might make your clean-up easier, those pots and pans could pose another risk. New research shows that non-stick pots and pans can be toxic, especially if they're more than two years old.

The clear plastic polytertrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—AKA Teflon—that gives your frying pan the ability to scorch a dish and then be easily scraped clean could also potentially get you sick, Live Science reports. While ingesting pieces of PTFE isn't harmful, misusing your cookware could potentially pose another health risk.

"When pans are overheated, that PTFE coating begins to disintegrate," Suzanne Fenton, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist at the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences in North Carolina, told Live Science. At these higher temperatures, the plastic in your pan breaks down into harmful gases that can be inhaled as you cook, causing ailments such as "polymer fume fever," which causes shortness of breath, weakness, and a spike in body temperature.

Scorched non-stick pans can also release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), long-term exposure to which has been linked to serious health issues including cancer, infertility, liver damage, and thyroid disease.

The good news is that most pans need to hit an incredibly high temperature before harmful gases are released. A 2001 Canadian study published in the journal Nature found that Teflon only began to break down at 680 degrees Fahrenheit. How hot is that? "It's unlikely to get to 600 degrees in regular cooking," Lisa McManus, executive testing and tasting editor for America's Test Kitchen, told Today in 2018. She explained that oil would begin to smoke at as low as 400 degrees.

But research has also found that time plays a factor, with PTFE breaking down at lower temperatures after years of use, according to a 1998 study published in Polymer Degradation and Stability. The aforementioned Canadian study found that regular use of a non-stick pan at cooking temperatures around 260 degrees gave them a lifespan of about 2.3 years, after which they should be replaced.

"It's really important that you use the pans on low-to-medium heat, and you don't use utensils that will scratch it," Fenton told Live Science. "Non-stick pans come in many forms, [and] one can certainly safely cook healthy meals in them."

But if you're concerned, you can try stocking your kitchen with aluminum cookware, ceramic pots and pans, or cast iron skillets instead. And for more on things in your home that could be putting you in danger, check out These Are the Health Risks Lurking in Your Kitchen.