Non-stick pans can release millions of micro- and nano-plastic particles over time

Researchers at the Global Environmental Restoration Center and the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering found that a broken nonstick pan coating could release up to 2.3 million microplastics and nanoplastics in daily use. I discovered something.

Scientists at Newcastle University and Flinders University Raman imaging Algorithms that enable direct visualization and identification of micro- and nano-Teflon plastics.

Teflon is a brand name for a synthetic chemical polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) that is waterproof and reduces friction on non-stick surfaces.

This new technique allowed researchers to measure the number of plastic particles that can be released from nonstick pans during cooking or cleaning as the coating degrades over time.

In an email to The Epoch Times, Newcastle University researcher Cheng Fang, PhD, said that the researchers found that when mimicking the natural cooking process in a newly purchased frying pan, whether the mechanism of heating, washing, or scratching was responsible for the formation of particles. It is unclear what caused the release. , they found that normal use alone was sufficient to produce particle emissions.

You may notice that your nonstick pan isn’t as shiny as when you bought it, and that it’s slowly turning a little yellow, says Fang. He said this indicates that the pot may be scratched or aged, releasing particles.

Researchers have shown that just one crack in the surface of a Teflon-coated frying pan can release about 9,100 plastic particles when used for cooking.

Epoch Times photo
Researchers tested four new pans to mimic the cooking process and measure the number of particles released through normal wear and tear. (Image courtesy of Cheng Fang/University of Newcastle)

Why Discovery Matters

at Flinders University news release, Fang said that Teflon, usually a non-stick coating material, is a member of the family of PFAS or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals commonly used in common household items such as utensils, fabrics, and food packaging.

Fang said PFAS is a big concern, so Teflon particulates being emitted from these pans are a potential health problem, and not enough is known about these new contaminants, so investigations are needed. he thinks it is necessary.

Current, National Institute of Environmental Health (NIEHS) states that multiple health effects have been associated with PFAS, but it is difficult to define the potential health side effects that PFAS can have on people. PFAS are difficult to study, especially since there are thousands of variations of PFAS chemicals.

Still, the current research found that exposure to PFAS was associated with altered metabolism and fertility, decreased fetal growth and immune system strength, and increased risk of developing obesity and some cancers.

In addition, it has also been found It has been fortuitously associated with the onset of premature menopause in pollutant-exposed women.

Youhong Tang, Professor of Science and Engineering, Flinders University, said:

“Given that Teflon is a family member of PFASs, more research is recommended to address the risk assessment of Teflon micro- and nanoplastics.”

Epoch Times photo
Researchers tested two used frying pans that could be examined directly. (Image courtesy of Cheng Fang/University of Newcastle)

How to count particles in Raman imaging

Fang said the technique used to measure the number of plastic particles emitted employs Raman spectra, which can be affected by many factors. These factors include Raman activity, target molecular purity cross section, laser power, integration time, number of scans, and other

He said that as the size of the Teflon particles shrinks, the signal becomes weaker anyway, making it difficult to monitor the particles.

“Things are even worse when co-components can generate a strong background as interference,” he said.

Fang said Raman can identify plastic particles by their fingerprint spectrum.

“Raman imaging works similarly to hyperspectral, where hundreds to thousands of spectra can be generated as a matrix to improve the signal-to-noise ratio.”

With the help of an algorithm, he was able to extract weak signals emerging from complex backgrounds, and once particles were identified, Scanning electron microscope (SEM) Useful for estimating the number of particles. SEM can achieve this with the help of algorithms.

“We test four new pans and two used ones. For the new ones we mimicked the cooking process.

Fang said future research projects on such pot-to-food plastic transitions depend on funding and support. He said a risk assessment should also be conducted.

Epoch Times photo
An Australian research paper has found microplastics in rice. (Joker/Alexander Stein/Getty Images)

Teflon brand cookware does not use Teflon chemicals

chemicalsthe company that owns the Teflon brand, said on its website that its nonstick pans do not contain PFOA or PFOS.

PFOA and PFOS is a widely produced member of the PFAS group in 2016. National Toxicology Program It was concluded as an immune disorder to humans.

According to the company’s website, their pans can withstand just about anything, even metal utensils. Particles from the non-stick coating are not harmful.

“It is neither correct nor appropriate to use PTFE and Teflon™ interchangeably,” Chemours Media said in an email to The Epoch Times.

Chemours Media says there are many non-stick coatings on the market that are not Teflon™ branded products.

“Teflon™ is a trademark owned by The Chemours Company. It is a brand, not a product or material.”

“Thus, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is the correct material to name in relation to non-stick coatings for cookware and bakeware made by other manufacturers.”

Chemours Media also states that its Teflon™ brand non-stick coatings for cookware and bakeware are manufactured without PFOA. They said Chemours does not use PFOA in any of the manufacturing processes that make the material used for nonstick coatings on cookware and bakeware.

Lily Kelly


Lily Kelly is an Australia-based reporter for The Epoch Times covering social issues, renewable energy, the environment, health and science.