True Cellular Formulas Team - August 21, 2023

Scratched Non-Stick Cookware

A Hidden Source of Plastic in Your Diet

Scratched Non-Stick Cookware

Ever pulled out your favorite non-stick pan to cook breakfast only to notice the scratches and scrapes that have appeared over time? These signs of wear may seem like mere cosmetic flaws, but recent scientific research shows that they might be doing more than just ruining your perfect pancake flip.

A groundbreaking study published in the Science of the Total Environment journal has revealed that a single scratch on a non-stick-coated pan can release approximately 9,100 plastic particles.[1] These aren't the plastics we commonly think of, such as those used in water bottles. Instead, they are PFAS chemicals, a particular type of polymer that has specific applications in non-stick coatings.

Many people rely on non-stick cookware for its convenience and ease of use. But the question arises: What impact do these PFAS particles have on our health when they end up in our food? This startling discovery has put non-stick cookware under scrutiny and led to a deeper exploration of what's really happening when we cook with these popular kitchen tools.

In light of these findings, the purpose of this blog post is to delve into the details of the study, explore the nature of PFAS chemicals, consider the potential health implications, and offer viable alternatives for those concerned about the ingredients not only in their food but also in their cookware. Let's start by understanding what PFAS chemicals really are and why they are used in non-stick products.

Understanding PFAS Chemicals

PFAS chemicals, or per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, may not be a term most of us are familiar with, but their presence in various products is widespread. These chemicals are part of a family of synthetic compounds that have unique properties, making them suitable for specific applications, such as non-stick cookware coatings.

Definition and Explanation of Polymers and PFAS Chemicals

Polymers are large molecules composed of repeated subunits called monomers. The term "polymer" simply means "many segments." PFAS chemicals belong to a subgroup of polymers characterized by their resistance to heat, water, and oil. Their non-stick nature comes from the fluorine atoms that form a slick, repellent surface.[2]

How PFAS Is Different from Common Plastics

It's essential to distinguish PFAS from the typical plastics used in everyday products like water bottles. While both are polymers, PFAS chemicals have unique properties that make them behave differently.[3] They're not just another form of plastic but a specific category with specific applications and potential health effects.

The Function of PFAS in Non-Stick Coatings

Non-stick cookware relies on the exceptional properties of PFAS to create a smooth, frictionless surface. This technology has revolutionized cooking, making it easier to prepare and clean up meals. However, the scratches and wear that inevitably occur over time can lead to the release of these PFAS particles into our food.[1]

By understanding the nature of PFAS chemicals and their role in non-stick cookware, we can start to grasp the significance of the study's findings and the concerns they raise. The question now is, what exactly did the researchers discover, and what does it mean for our daily cooking routines?

The Study's Findings

The recent study published in the Science of the Total Environment journal has cast a spotlight on non-stick cookware, revealing facts that might make you reconsider its use in your kitchen.[1]

Overview of the Study

The study set out to investigate how PFAS particles could be released from non-stick cookware during the cooking process. Researchers mimicked cooking for around 30 seconds on both new and old/used cookware using different types of utensils to analyze the release of micro and nano-plastic polymers, specifically PFAS particles.[1]

Details of the Experiment

Various pans and utensils were tested to determine the conditions under which PFAS particles were released. Shockingly, a single scratch on the non-stick coating resulted in approximately 9,100 plastic particles being freed. These weren't the ordinary plastics found in household items but rather specific PFAS chemicals that ended up in the simulated food.[1]

Quantification of Plastic Particles Released

The researchers quantified the release of these particles, finding that the amounts ranged from thousands to millions of micro and nano-plastic polymers. Their tests revealed that even minor abrasions on the cookware's surface could lead to significant releases.

Implications of the Study's Findings

What's more alarming is that the authors of the study expected that "the true amount of the released microplastics and nanoplastics from the actual cooking process is significantly higher, even with variations."[1] This means that what they observed could only be the tip of the iceberg, and the real-world implications might be even more concerning.

The research has prompted a closer examination of the materials we use to prepare our food and the hidden risks they may pose. But what does this mean for our health, and how should we respond to these findings?

Health Implications of PFAS

The revelation that non-stick cookware could release PFAS particles into our food has sparked concern and curiosity about what this means for our health. It's not just a matter of taste or convenience; it's a question of well-being.

Possible Health Effects of Ingesting Micro and Nano-Plastic Polymers

The health effects of PFAS are still under study, but some research has linked them to various health issues. These might include hormonal disruption, immune system alteration, and even an increased risk of certain cancers.[4] The uncertainty surrounding these potential effects has fueled a broader debate about the safety of these chemicals in our daily lives.

Current Regulatory Considerations

Governments and regulatory bodies are starting to take notice of the potential risks. The European Union is currently considering a ban on the entire class of PFAS chemicals due to the potential health effects.[5] Such a move reflects growing concerns and highlights the need for further investigation into these substances.

Why You Should Care

If you care about your health and the well-being of your family, understanding the potential risks associated with PFAS is essential. This issue goes beyond mere cooking convenience; it touches on the very safety of the food we consume. By becoming informed about these chemicals and their possible effects, you can make more thoughtful decisions about the tools and techniques you use in your kitchen, putting your health first.

The study's findings and the potential health implications of PFAS highlight a hidden aspect of our cooking habits that many may overlook.[1] As we gain a better understanding of these chemicals, it becomes evident that we must also explore alternatives to non-stick cookware.

Alternatives to Non-Stick Cookware

Choosing to move away from non-stick cookware doesn't mean giving up on convenient and efficient cooking. There are several alternative options that don't rely on PFAS chemicals.

Problems with Non-Stick Cookware Beyond Just Health Concerns

Besides the health issues, non-stick coatings can wear out quickly, leading to a reduced lifespan for your pans. It's not just about avoiding potentially harmful substances but also about opting for more durable and sustainable options.

Recommendations for Alternative Cookware Materials

  • Stainless Steel: Known for its durability and ability to distribute heat evenly.
  • Cast Iron: Naturally non-stick when seasoned properly, and it can last for generations.
  • Ceramic: Offers non-stick properties without PFAS chemicals, though it requires careful handling to prevent chipping.

Tips for Cooking Without Non-Stick Pans

  • Use adequate fat or oil to prevent sticking.
  • Preheat the pan properly.
  • Season cast iron regularly.
  • Be mindful of cooking temperatures and utensils to preserve the integrity of alternative materials.


Scratches on your non-stick cookware are more than just visual blemishes. The revelation that these scrapes can release PFAS particles into our food adds another layer of complexity to our cooking choices. While the convenience of non-stick pans is undeniable, the potential risks associated with their use warrant consideration.

By understanding PFAS chemicals, recognizing the findings of recent research, considering the possible health implications, and exploring alternatives, we can make more informed decisions about what we use in our kitchens. The choice is ultimately ours, and the health of our families might depend on it.

Whether you decide to replace your non-stick cookware or continue using it with caution, awareness of the issue empowers you to cook with confidence and care. After all, good food is not just about taste; it's about nourishing ourselves safely and sustainably.

  1. Luo, Yunlong, et al. “Raman Imaging for the Identification of Teflon Microplastics and Nanoplastics Released from Non-Stick Cookware.” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 851, 2022, p. 158293, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.158293. 
  2. “If Nothing Sticks to Teflon, How Does It Stick to Pans?” Scientific American, 5 Feb. 2001, 
  3. “If Nothing Sticks to Teflon, How Does It Stick to Pans?” Scientific American, 5 Feb. 2001, 
  4. Fenton, Suzanne E et al. “Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Toxicity and Human Health Review: Current State of Knowledge and Strategies for Informing Future Research.” Environmental toxicology and chemistry vol. 40,3 (2021): 606-630. doi:10.1002/etc.4890
  5. “ECHA Publishes PFAS Restriction Proposal.” ECHA,