Are there dangers to Teflon and aluminium cookware?

Are there dangers to Teflon and aluminium cookware?

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I've been reading some articles on the internet about dangers of Teflon and aluminium to the body.

My family say I'm just exaggerating the situation, and maybe I am, though I'm not sure because not everything on the internet is true. They always tell me that if aluminium were dangerous then why would the government allow the use of aluminium bottles in drinks.

Are there strong references and facts to support dangers associated with aluminium or Teflon cookware? If aluminium or other chemicals enter the body from cookware, are they naturally eliminated, or do they remain in the body?

The US Department of Health and Human Services has a nice set of factsheets on aluminum. In brief, and to specifically answer your questions, they point out that:

  • Aluminum occurs naturally in air, water, soil, and plants.

  • The amounts of aluminum that we encounter in pots and pans are considered to be safe for healthy people. Cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots increases the amount ingested, but is still considered to be safe; and it still represents many times less aluminum than in over-the-counter antacids, which are also considered safe.

  • Much of the aluminum we ingest leaves ones body naturally through the digestive system (that is, feces), and is not taken up into the bloodstream. The small amount of aluminum that makes it to our bloodstream is mostly quickly eliminated in urine. Those with kindey problems may not process this bloodstream aluminum as quickly.

Nonstick pan coatings are a little more difficult, probably because they're so diverse. Cookware isn't even mentioned as a source on the factsheet for perflouroalkyls, the chemical which has been mentioned in connection with nonstick pan health issues. The US Environmental Protection Agency FAQ says:

Consumer products made with perfluorochemicals include some non-stick cookware… Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers [NB. I assume they mean overheating nonstick pans]. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern.

Teflon® is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and it has been used since 1940s (discovered by DuPont Co.). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as C8) is another man-made chemical and it is used in the process of making Teflon and similar chemicals (known as fluorotelomers), although it is burned off during the process and is not present in significant amounts in the final products.

Teflon itself is not suspected of causing cancer, but PFOA has the potential to be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that PFOA is present at very low levels in just about everyone's blood in the US and it can be found at low levels in some foods, drinking water, and in household dust. It can be higher in areas due to contamination. People can be exposed to PFOA from fabrics, ski wax or carpeting which has been treated to be stain resistant. However non-stick cookware is not a significant source of exposure.

Studies in laboratory animals have found that PFOA exposure increases the risk of certain tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and the pancreas in these animals. Overall, well-conducted animal studies do a good job predicting that cause cancer in humans exposures. But for PFOA, there are clear differences in the way the body of laboratory animals and humans handle this chemical. Because of these differences, it is clear that the process chemical to cause cancer in animals also occur in humans.

Human studies have shown that people with workplace exposure to PFOS have a higher risk of cancer of the bladder and kidneys.

Several national and international agencies studying various substances in the environment, to determine if they cause cancer (carcinogens, substances that cause cancer and help cancer grow). However, at this time, these agencies do not formally assessed whether PFOA can cause cancer. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an electronic database that contains information on human health effects from exposure to various substances in the environment, has not officially classified PFOA as to its carcinogenicity.

Other than the possible risk of fumes from overheating the pan, there are no known risks to humans using Teflon-coated cookware. When PFOA is used to make Teflon, does not occur (or not present in very small amounts) in a Teflon-coated products. Because the way by which people may be exposed to PFOS are not known, it is not clear what steps to take for people to reduce exposure.

Currently, EPA states:

"Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern. At present, the EPA does not recommend any steps for consumers to take to reduce exposures to PFOA."

Source: Teflon and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) at

Are my non-stick saucepans a health hazard?

A s if eating healthily were not hard enough already, we now have to consider, once again, the pans we cook in. Last week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued stricter limitations on the use of long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), traditionally employed in the manufacture of non-stick pans.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), linked in laboratory animals to an increase in tumours of the liver, pancreas and testicles and reduced fertility, is one of the chemicals used in the chain of reactions that makes the common non-stick surface Teflon. The EPA says long-chain PFCs accumulate in people and wildlife and, while there is less clear evidence of harm to humans, it does not want to take chances. The agency has already told companies to phase out these chemicals by the end of 2015. Now, this latest move will restrict their use in new products in the US. So is it safe to cook with non-stick pans?

Dangers of Aluminum Cookware

Although Aluminum is an excellent material, it does have some negative aspects to it. Aluminum reacts with the acid in food, causing it to leach into your meal. This is why aluminum cookware is normally either anodized or coated with ceramic or a non-stick covering.

Aluminum can be ingested, absorbed, or inhaled by your body, and it may cause damage. Aluminum has been linked to lung damage and is poisonous to the brain and nervous system if absorbed in large quantities.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that aluminum is not easily absorbed into the body. They say that the amounts that we eat in food, whether naturally occurring, added, or leached in due to cookware, are not something most people need to be concerned about.

The CDC reported that of the aluminum that we consume, less than 1 percent makes it into our bloodstream, most of it is flushed out. People with kidney disease, however, should be cautious. They hold more aluminum in their body, and it has been linked to dementia, anemia, and bone disease.

There has also been evidence that links aluminum cookware and Alzheimers. More on this later!

Instead go for these safe cookware alternatives

Cast iron cookware

Cast iron cookware: Cast iron cookware is one of the best choices for cooking. It conducts heat evenly and has no hot spots. When properly cared for, it is a nearly non-stick cookware. Since we need iron in our diets, the small amount of iron that leaches into food is actually a benefit.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel: Stainless steel is one of the best choices for cookware. Stainless steel is nearly non-stick and heats evenly, especially if it has an aluminum clad bottom

Glassware: Glassware can retain heat very well. It is safe for use in the microwave and has no problem withstanding extreme changes in temperature.

Are Old Aluminum Pans Safe To Use

I am sure that the discussion made above have cleared your mind a lot about the question. There are specific points derived we can ponder about, before deciding whether using old aluminium pans is safe or not. How old is your pan? How much is it scratched? How often do you use it? How much heat does it face while you cook? Being not a scientist, we can not precisely calculate the safety or risk level about our pan. Though keeping these questions in view, we can guess concerning the possible aluminium pan dangers in our mind.


By this moment, if someone asks me about, are old aluminium pans safe? I shall answer it as a “NO”. As after making all the research and going through the facts as mentioned above, the balance of convenience tilts down on the negative side. However, your heart and mind is the best judge for your pans and cookware. Maybe your utensils are not used roughly and have their safety surface intact.

Maybe you have not ever exposed your pan to a high temperature, etc. Of course, using cookware once in a fortnight causes lesser threat as compared to daily use. Collectively saying, the risks do exist when you use old aluminium cookware which is medically and scientifically proven but exceptions depend on your usage and the life of your cookware.

Leaching From Cookware

Benefits of Recycling Metal

The amount of this metal that leaches into food from aluminum cookware and utensils depends on a variety of factors. Acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, cause more aluminum to leach from this cookware compared to the effects of lower-acid foods, such as chicken or meat. Prolonged food contact with this metal -- such as longer cooking or storage times -- also increases the amount that seeps into the food. In addition, a July 2013 study published in “ISRN Public Health“ found that older aluminum pots leach more of this metal into foods compared to new pots and utensils. A study published in the September 1985 issue of “Journal of Food Protection” estimated food contact with aluminum pans or foil can add an average of 3.5 mg aluminum to the daily diet, an amount the study authors considered insufficient to constitute a health hazard.

  • The amount of this metal that leaches into food from aluminum cookware and utensils depends on a variety of factors.
  • In addition, a July 2013 study published in “ISRN Public Health“ found that older aluminum pots leach more of this metal into foods compared to new pots and utensils.

Table of Contents

Polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are key components used in Teflon’s indestructible chemicals that have been linked to several public health risks such as environmental pollution, various birth defects, and of course cancer. (2, 3, 4, 5) Nearly every American has some level of these dangerous fluorocarbons running through their bloodstream because these chemicals are virtually everywhere!

According to the Environmental Working Group, this is the problem with Teflon include:

  1. Long-Term Exposure: When you breathe kitchen air polluted with fumes from overheated Teflon, you’re at risk for developing flu-like symptoms (yes, “Teflon flu”). The long-term effects of routine exposure to Teflon fumes, and from Teflon flu itself, have not been adequately studied.
  2. Perfluorinated Chemical Family: PFCs have been found in nearly all Americans tested by federal public health officials. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.
  3. Environmental hazards: Manufacturing PFCs and the consumer products that contain them poses great risks to the environment and wildlife. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says PFCs present “persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree.”

Is There a Danger in Cast Aluminum Cookware?

Q. I found your site on web looking for "dangers of aluminum cookware". I have recently acquired my grandmother's "cast aluminum cookware". Not being a chemist I am not sure if that is the same as anodized. It brings back many fond memories and I like the way it cooks. I would really like to use it. Several members of my family have given warnings about cooking in them causing health problems. I tell them Grams lived to be 86 and they are all she used for 50 years. Is there any real validity to their concerns? I am a nurse and know there was some rumor about Alzheimer's but I thought that had been dispelled. Please help ease our minds. Thanks Barb.

Barbara P [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Rabun Gap, Georgia

" Cast " means formed by pouring molten metal into a mold of that shape as opposed to being machined from a solid block.

" Anodized " means electrochemically treated to form a thick and stable oxidation layer. The two terms are neither mutually exclusive nor mutually inclusive.

Maybe I can "ease your mind" by reminding you that "The News" is very big business. If anyone finds even the smallest indication that something as common as aluminum cookware might increase the risk of Alzheimer's, then "TOXIC TIMEBOMB IN YOUR KITCHEN?!" will be on the network news around the world. But as you have found, when that study gets discredited, you won't hear a peep of balance from the news because "Cookware is (ho, hum) safe after all" won't tempt people to stay up and tune in.

The politicians you elect are in the same position: It is in their interest to constantly conjure up stuff they will "protect" you from (please google: "H. L. Mencken hobgoblins").

Personally, I'm not worried about it, and I'm confident that if you do a library search through Science News, Scientific American [affil. link to magazine on Amazon] , The Journal of the American Medical Association, etc. that you'll find enough info to assure yourself and your mother. But if you choose the internet instead, you'll find enough scare literature to spend the rest of your life on.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. I have several pieces of my mother and grandmother's cast aluminum which are my favorite cookware of all time. She & my grandmother lived to almost 90 with no signs of any kind of dementia.

Dorothy Callahan
- Baldwin, Maryland

Q. My Mom always used S.O.S. pads to clean her cast aluminum service.

I still wonder if it is safe to cook in cast aluminum.

Grace Barkwell
- Ontario, Canada

affil. link
"Aluminum and Health"
by H. J. Gitelman
from Abe Books
info on Amazon

A. Regarding the "Is aluminum safe to cook with &hellip" question. Over 20 years ago, I heard the professor speak who had been quoted as the source of the connection between aluminum in the brain and Alzheimer's diseases. His research had found an excess of aluminum in the brain of such patients. He did not believe that cooking in aluminum had any connection to the development of Alzheimer's disease. He believes that the myth of danger of cooking was started when someone asked him what he cooked with and he answered "Teflon cookware." Apparently no one asked or quoted him as to why. He thought it was easier to clean! True story. Heard this at a conference on aging from the expert himself. Unfortunately, I don't recall his name. (ok, there is some humor in not being able to remember the name of the expert on Alzheimer's disease :-)

A. My grandmother used her aluminum cookware until she died. She was in her 70's and died of a heartache, but previously had a very sharp mind. I have always used the aluminum cookware (30+ years). I believe that with all the other environmental causes of aluminum that are around, we would not only have to quit cooking with aluminum, but curtail half of our diet and our air - if we believe that it makes that much difference. I personally do not believe anything that makes its way through the newspapers or internet. If there is something I am concerned about, I ask my doctor, pharmacist or look it up myself in the library and get solid facts to back it up. With the solid facts and my grandmothers full, happy, and sharp life to go on I believe I will go on using my aluminum cookware.

Ruthe Bullington
retired - Markleysburg, Pennsylvania

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

HIGHLIGHTS: Everyone is exposed to low levels of aluminum from food, air, and water. Exposure to high levels of aluminum may result in respiratory problems. Aluminum has been found in at least 427 of the 1,467 National Priorities List sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This fact sheet answers the most frequently asked health questions (FAQs) about aluminum. For more information, call the ATSDR Information Center at 1-888-422-8737. This fact sheet is one in a series of summaries about hazardous substances and their health effects. It's important you understand this information because this substance may harm you. The effects of exposure to any hazardous substance depend on the dose, the duration, how you are exposed, personal traits and habits, and whether other chemicals are present.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ToxFAQs June 1999

What is aluminum?
Aluminum occurs naturally and makes up about 8% of the surface of the earth. It is always found combined with other elements such as oxygen, silicon, and fluorine.
Aluminum metal is silver-white and flexible. It is often used in cooking utensils, containers, appliances, and building materials. It is also used in paints and fireworks to produce glass, rubber, and ceramics and in consumer products such as antacids, astringents, buffered aspirin, food additives, and antiperspirants.
What happens to aluminum when it enters the environment?
It binds to particles in the air.
It can dissolve in lakes, streams, and rivers depending on the quality of the water.
Acid rain may dissolve aluminum from soil and rocks.
It can be taken up into some plants from soil.
It is not known to bioconcentrate up the food chain.
How might I be exposed to aluminum?
Eating small amounts of aluminum in food.
Breathing higher levels of aluminum dust in workplace air.
Drinking water with high levels of aluminum near waste sites, manufacturing plants, or areas naturally high in aluminum.
Eating substances containing high levels of aluminum (such as antacids) especially when eating or drinking citrus products at the same time.
Very little enters your body from aluminum cooking utensils.
How can aluminum affect my health?
Low-level exposure to aluminum from food, air, water, or contact with skin is not thought to harm your health. Aluminum, however, is not a necessary substance for our bodies and too much may be harmful.
People who are exposed to high levels of aluminum in air may have respiratory problems including coughing and asthma from breathing dust.
Some studies show that people with Alzheimer's disease have more aluminum than usual in their brains. We do not know whether aluminum causes the disease or whether the buildup of aluminum happens to people who already have the disease. Infants and adults who received large doses of aluminum as a treatment for another problem developed bone

CAS # 7429-90-5
Page 2
Federal Recycling Program Printed on Recycled Paper
ToxFAQs Internet address via WWW is
Where can I get more information? For more information, contact the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry, Division of Toxicology, 1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop E-29, Atlanta, GA 30333.
ATSDR can tell you where
to find occupational and environmental health clinics. Their specialists can recognize, evaluate, and treat illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances. You can also contact your community or state health or environmental quality department if you have any more questions or concerns.
diseases, which suggests that aluminum may cause skeletal problems. Some sensitive people develop skin rashes from using aluminum chlorohydrate deodorants.
How likely is aluminum to cause cancer?
The Department of Health and Human Services, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the EPA have not classified aluminum for carcinogenicity. Aluminum has not been shown to cause cancer in animals.
How can aluminum affect children?
Children with kidney problems who were given aluminum in their medical treatments developed bone diseases.
Other health effects of aluminum on children have not been studied. It is not known whether aluminum affects children differently than adults, or what the long-term effects might be in adults exposed as children. Large amounts of aluminum have been shown to be harmful to unborn and developing animals because it can cause delays in skeletal and neurological development. Aluminum has been shown to cause lower
birthweights in some animals.
How can families reduce the risk of exposure to aluminum?
The most important way families can lower exposure to aluminum is to know about the sources of aluminum and lessen exposure to these sources. Since aluminum is so common and widespread in the environment, families cannot avoid exposure to aluminum. Exposure to the low levels of
aluminum that are naturally present in food and water and the forms of aluminum present in dirt and aluminum cookware is generally not harmful. The best way to reduce exposure to aluminum is to avoid taking large quantities of soluble forms of aluminum such as aluminum-containing antacids and
buffered aspirin. Make sure these products have child-proof caps so children will not accidentally eat them. Some soybased formulas may contain high levels of aluminum, so parents may want to consult with their physician when choosing an infant formula.
Is there a medical test to show whether I've been exposed to aluminum?
There are tests to measure aluminum in blood, urine, and feces. The amount in your urine can tell you whether you have been exposed to higher than normal levels of aluminum.
Tests can also detect aluminum in your hair and fingernails. Not all of these tests are routinely performed at your doctor's office, but your doctor can take samples and send them to a testing laboratory.
Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?
EPA requires that spills or accidental releases of 5,000 pounds or more of aluminum sulfate be reported. Special regulations are set for aluminum phosphide because it is a pesticide.
EPA recommends that the concentration of aluminum in drinking water not exceed 0.2 parts of aluminum per million parts of water (0.2 ppm) because of aesthetic effects, such as taste and odor problems.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that aluminum cooking utensils, aluminum foil, antiperspirants, antacids, and other aluminum products are generally safe.
Source of information
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
1999. Toxicological profile for aluminum. Atlanta, GA: U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health
CAS # 7429-90-5

Melissa Hernandez
- Clearwater, Florida

A. Following considerable research in the 90's, I found no factual evidence linking the use of aluminum cookware with Alzheimer's Disease. Consequently, I have continued to use aluminum cookware. Due to the fact that we humans are not cloned or identical, each individual body will respond and/or react to difference substances in unique ways. My paternal grandmother is 103 years old and has complete clarity of her intellect. She has been using aluminum cookware for most of her adult life. Every morning she prepares espresso coffee in her aluminum coffee pot. This is a fact. However, this does not mean that cooking with aluminum cookware is safe. It only means that it does not appear to have caused detriment to my grandmother. My perspective is that we should all not 'believe' the opinions or the recommendations we share on the internet or elsewhere. We can take individual responsibility for this type of inquiry, do our own research and form our own opinions and proceed accordingly. Researching any given subject, requires the willingness to search for genuine and authentic facts and tediously sift through the disinformation that we sometimes accept as factual evidence.

Sara Fernandez
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida

!! Paranoia? Bear with me. please: I just bought some used aluminum pots. I washed them with a 0000 steel wool [affil. link to info/product at Rockler] product, the water was black (curious). Observing this, I then washed the pots thoroughly with soap, water and a scrubbie. After drying, I then rubbed the inside of the pots with my finger numerous times and received a dark metallic residue on my finger (curious). Thinking I was going crazy, I rubbed again with other fingers. all covered with a metallic film(hmm).

Some of us know western society is in the business of getting us sick and keeping us there, but I will not be sold on this issue, I won't take the chance, or be a stat. And I'm a firm believer in research, and yes there are proponents and opponents. Aluminum is aluminum, I don't think I'll be using any aluminum, if I can help it.

I'll stick with my instinct, and wash away the evidence and worry that is all over my fingers.

Trey Sargent
- Santa Cruz, California

A. Hi Trey. Unfortunately, even if you are successful in avoiding the trappings of civilization because you "know western society is in the business of getting us sick and keeping us there" , you'll still be left walking, standing, sitting and lying on surfaces made of aluminum. Third only to oxygen & silicon, aluminum is the most common material on earth, so the dirt, sand, mud, rocks, and everything in nature is largely aluminum without those trappings, sadly you'll be eating and breathing a lot of it :-)

Note that aluminum dissolves in alkali dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent is a problem and probably the cause of the blackening. I, too, might throw away a pot of unknown history which reacted the way you described, but you could try scrubbing it with cream of tartar. Good luck with cookware that you'll be happier with, perhaps cast iron or ceramic coated, or copper (although that is only safe if tin coated).

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Aluminum is a naturally occurring element.

Teflon has been created by man.

I fear more what man has created than what occurs naturally on our planet.

My grandmother is 91, sharp as a whip and had been using aluminum cookware since pre-1955.

I have recently rid myself of non-stick coating cookware.

And that's all I have to say on the subject!

Vanessa Cannucci
- Overland Park

A. You know, anecdotes about peoples grandmothers and the natural source of aluminium are well and fine. Besides the one post from the govt above, nothing here is useful.

You know, I think lead is natural too, I don't recommend eating it or cooking with it.

Here is the best article I could find, from the US FDA (FDA Consumer magazine article I guess):

Is That Newfangled Cookware Safe?
by Dale Blumenthal

for example:

" Chemicals that migrate from cookware into food are considered food additives (substances that become a component of a food or otherwise affect its characteristics) and are therefore under FDA's jurisdiction. FDA addresses safety concerns about housewares on a case-by-case basis.
For instance, after a California family suffered acute lead poisoning from drinking orange juice stored in a ceramic pitcher bought in Mexico, FDA initiated a formal compliance action in 1971 limiting the amount of lead that may leach from products used to hold food. In taking this action, the agency relied on food additive provisions that prohibit adulterating a food by adding poisonous and deleterious substances to the food. Since then, FDA has tightened restrictions on lead. (See An Unwanted Souvenir: ead in Ceramic Ware, in the December 1989-January 1990 issue of FDA Consumer.) "

More than half (52 percent) of all cookware sold today is made of aluminum, according to Cookware Manufacturers Association executive vice president Paul Uetzmann. But most of these aluminum pots and pans are coated with nonstick finishes or treated using a process that alters and hardens the structure of the metal.
In the 1970s, Canadian researchers reported that the brains of Alzheimer's disease victims contained abnormally high levels of aluminum. The studies stirred a controversy about whether aluminum is the cause or result of the disease. At the same time, many concerned consumers discarded their natural aluminum cookware.
Stephen Levick, M.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., wrote in a letter to the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, out with my corroded aluminum pots.
John Koning, M.D., from Riverside General Hospital in Corona, Calif., responded, most ingested aluminum is recovered in the feces, and much more is ingested by a person taking antacids than one could ever leach from an aluminum pan. Dr. Levick has thrown away his pots and pans to no avail? Researchers still are investigating the connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease. But according to Creighton Phelps, Ph.D., director of medical and scientific affairs at the Alzheimer's Association, much recent data support the theory that brains already damaged by Alzheimer's disease may permit entry of abnormally high levels of aluminum. As FDA and researchers point out, aluminum is ubiquitous. It is the third most abundant element in the earth's crust (after oxygen and silicon). It is in air, water and soil, and ultimately in the plants and animals we eat.
Many over-the-counter medicines also contain aluminum. According to the Aluminum Association, one antacid tablet can contain 50 milligrams of aluminum or more, and it is not unusual for a person with an upset stomach to consume more than 1,000 milligrams, or 1 gram, of aluminum per day. A buffered aspirin tablet may contain about 10 to 20 milligrams of aluminum. In contrast, in a worst-case scenario, a person using uncoated aluminum pans for all cooking and food storage every day would take in an estimated 3.5 milligrams of aluminum daily. Aluminum cookware manufacturers warn that storing highly acidic or salty foods such as tomato sauce, rhubarb, or sauerkraut in aluminum pots may cause more aluminum than usual to enter the food. (Also, undissolved salt and acidic foods allowed to remain in an aluminum pot will cause pitting on the pot's surface.) However, aluminum intake is virtually impossible to avoid, and the amount leached in food from aluminum cookware is relatively minimal, according to Thomas.
FDA reviewed existing data because of consumer concern and formally announced in May 1986 that the agency has no information at this time that the normal dietary intake of aluminum, whether from naturally occurring levels in food, the use of aluminum cookware, or from aluminum food additives or drugs, is harmful.

Jack Brown
- Atlanta, Georgia

Thanks for the quotes, Jack! We're happy to see a full range of thinking here. Please continue to contribute whatever thoughts you wish, and to disagree as strongly as you wish with anything posted here -- but as for "anecdote" and "nothing here is useful", that's a characterization I completely disagree with: Hundreds of millions of people, probably billions, all around the world using aluminum cookware for generation after generation, 70 years or more, and no smoking gun, no obvious evidence of harm, is not an anecdote! Rather, it's one of the most powerful & convincing statistics I've ever seen.

Yes, official government reports are usually more trustworthy than individual reports, but Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" [affil. link to book on Amazon on AbeBooks -->] , which indicted those same government bureaucrats for their astounding jaw-dropping blindness absolutely across the board, and which started the whole environmental movement, was certainly "useful" :-)

No one claimed that aluminum "must be safe because it is prevalent in the natural environment" , or anything even remotely like that -- to the contrary, it's known to seriously stunt plant growth. Rather, what I said is that aluminum is so common in the natural environment that trying to get away from it by "avoiding the trappings of Western Society" probably can't work -- which is almost exactly what the Alzeimers Association says here: "Further, it is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their exposure to aluminum through such measures as avoiding aluminum-containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications and other products." . Thanks again.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

! I believe in good research and trusted sources so, here is a good read from the Alzheimer's Association.

They are leaning toward "inconclusive".

I like the cliche . "better safe than sorry."

Paul H. Jackman
- San Antonio, Texas

Ed. note 8/7/19: That document is no longer on that page, but can be reviewed at

That is indeed a great read, Paul thank you very much for it! But I can't interpret their conclusions the way you have. I saw:

"The vast majority of mainstream scientists now believe that if aluminum plays any role at all in Alzheimer's, that role is small."

". . . most mainstream health professionals believe, based on current knowledge, that exposure to aluminum is not a significant risk factor. Public health bodies sharing this conviction include the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Health Canada. . ."

"Further, it is unlikely that people can significantly reduce their exposure to aluminum through such measures as avoiding aluminum-containing cookware, foil, beverage cans, medications and other products."

"Leaning towards 'Inconclusive' "? "Better safe than sorry"? I didn't see anything like that in the article you referenced! Maybe you are thinking of some other article?

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

! Aluminum is everywhere. So are many things all over the earth that are poisonous when ingested. Common sense tells me not to eat aluminum, or put anything into my body that has been in an aluminum container. I use cast iron skillets.

Bettina Frriedman
- San Diego, California

Hi, Bettina. Use whatever cookware you prefer, for whatever reason. But when you say "common sense tells me . ", what do you actually mean? My common sense tells me that aluminum is safe when hundreds of millions of people have cooked with it for generation after generation with no substantial and non-debatable evidence of harm. What is your "common sense" seeing that makes you frightened of aluminum containers but comfortable with cast iron? Thanks.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

! I find this site very interesting. Today, I finally found my mum's old "Chicken Bucket" low pressure fryer. It is made of aluminum. My husband insisted that I not use it again after tonight because of what it's made of and instead to purchase a very pricey stainless steel low pressure fryer. After having a wonderful chicken dinner and cleaning everything up, I decided that perhaps I should just see if the jury is still out on "Aluminum cookware causes Alzheimer's".
Well, after reading the many posts that support aluminum cookware, I just might not be so hasty to trash my Mumma's Chicken Bucket. I also read that these pots were dangerous because they exploded. Not sure how that would happen if you read (studied) the directions on how to use it. Anyway, thanks for the info.

Marilu Gibbs
- Forest, Ontario, Canada

A. There seems to be "scare" literature on the Internet on just about any subject. Regarding aluminum pots and pans, we could try to read all the Government literature on the subject, or we could just use our common sense. My common sense: My mother used Club Aluminum pots and pans from 1940 until she died in 2000. I grew up eating foods she cooked in them every day of my childhood and young adulthood. My wife and I used a set of Club Aluminum pots and pans from the day we married in 1968 forward, and I still have all of them and use them every day. I raised my two children on foods I cooked in them. They are now approaching age 40 and I am 65. And the three of us are still alive and healthy.

This nonsense about the danger of aluminum cooking forced the excellent Club Aluminum Company out of business. Fortunately when my daughter got married in 1996 they were still available and I bought her a set of them.

No matter what it is, there is somebody claiming it will do serious damage to you. For the past few years it has been electric blankets and clock radios in bedrooms. It appears they send electromagnet waves RIGHT INTO YOUR BRAIN! The same articles advise NEVER to microwave food, never to eat at restaurants who use microwave ovens, etc.

All of this is nonsense, and we know it because jillions of us who use electric blankets, clock radios and microwave ovens are still here after many, many years.

It's a matter of common sense.

James Zemboy
- Detroit, Michigan

A. While growing up, my father prevented us from cooking in Aluminum cookware because of the Alzheimer's theory - and so we have been cooking in Stainless.

I found an excellent website on The Dangers of Aluminum Toxicity - I believe written by the Medicine Editor.

Scroll down and read number 2:

2) Use stainless steel, glass, or iron cookware. Stainless steel is the best choice.

Sofia C
- Reading, Pennsylvania

Hi, Sofia thanks. That link was also offered on letter 17519. But that was not Bellaonline's "Medicine Editor" it was their " Alternative Medicine Editor". That's a very very big difference.

There is clearly a place for alternative medicine / natural medicine, but just as we recognize that manufacturers are vested in technology, we also need to recognize that natural medicine is vested in its anti-technology, homeopathic cures, and is liable to find risk in everything that is manufactured. Please see the quotes above from the Alzheimer's Association, which does not appear to share the concern of that one particular alternative medicine editor whatsoever.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. My question is as follows: I am going camping with some friends and want to give them a pioneer experience. but I have a limited budget. I went to a discount store and saw some aluminum cookware that my Spanish friends use a lot to cook rice and beans. The company name is Torware. First, is this type of cookware toxic? If not, then next question: Can I use this cookware directly on the campfire? Do I have to prepare it like the cast Iron pots?
A swift reply would be greatly appreciated.

Elizabeth Hunt
- New York, New York

A. Hi, Elizabeth. If you don't believe the Alzheimer's association when they see no danger in aluminum, that's fine -- such associations have sometimes been wrong. If you don't believe that the government prevents companies from stocking department store shelves with toxic pots, that's okay too -- the government has made mistakes.

But if you don't believe reputable sources, what could a stranger like me on the internet possibly say to sway you towards believing that it's safe? It would be a waste of breath. Have a great camping experience!

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

A. It's probably too late for your camping trip, but any pot that you put directly on the campfire will need to be soaped first (on the outside) to keep it from becoming permanently blackened by the smoke. Is that what you meant about preparing an aluminum pot the same as you would a cast iron one?

Barbara Millikan
- Sheridan Oregon

! You can believe whatever you like but cooking out of aluminum pots and pans is VERY bad for your health. The metal when heated opens the pores and leaches into your food. Nasty, Nasty. Getting your blood poisoned is no way to live.

Alex Royal
- San Diego, California

Hi Ted,
We crossed paths before when I worked in a coating firm in Georgia. You helped me when investigating hard chrome platings. Like others I found your thread when googling food grade aluminum. I already knew you as a straight shooter so it was fun to read this thread -- and helpful. Good moderating and great to see all sides. I had this discussion with my wife just this A.M. about "raw" aluminum vs. anodized (set me off in search mode) I told her 90% of her aluminum cookware was raw non anodized, and anodized while harder, is no difference in cookware safety. Trying to get a bead on raw aluminum food complaint aspects.

Brad Barrett
- Cartersville, Georgia

Hi, Brad. Nice to hear from you again, and thanks for the kind words.

I personally doubt that there is a safety issue, but I think hard anodized aluminum has a nice advantage in stability and appearance. Our Calphalon hard anodized pans are great. We bought a Bialetti aluminum espresso coffee pot a few months ago, as shown in Amazon picture to right [ disclaimer: we get a commission if a reader buys one through this link ], with little if any anodizing thickness.

We don't use it much, and when I went to make cappuccino yesterday there was quite a bit of ugly corrosion inside (probably from neglecting to dry it properly and letting it sit moist for a couple of weeks). I don't think it would grow this unsightly corrosion if it was hard anodized even if left wet.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

Q. Ted, in your response you mention corrosion inside the coffee pot. Would that be unhealthy to keep using? I have a coffee pot that is specifically for putting water in on top of the stove. There's no way to reach in and clean it. I've had more than one over the years and have seen them corrode to the point of getting holes in the bottom and leaking. I've thrown some away before they reach the point of getting holes.
My question is are they safe to use? What is an alternative? Thanks.

Kathy Schafer
- Columbus, Ohio

A. Hi, Kathy. While it would be nice if someone could offer you a factual answer on the safety of aluminum, they can't. All they can offer is opinion. My personal opinion, which I've offered many times on this and similar threads, is that your coffee pot is harmless based on the evidence you see discussed here and on many similar threads here. An alternative would be a stainless steel pot if you can find one. Good luck.

Ted Mooney , P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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Disclaimer: It's not possible to fully diagnose a finishing problem or the hazards of an operation via these pages. All information presented is for general reference and does not represent a professional opinion nor the policy of an author's employer. The internet is largely anonymous & unvetted some names may be fictitious and some recommendations might be harmful.

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The Dangers of Non-Stick Cookware

People have a tendency to forget security and safety issues whenever a new technology provides a great convenience. This is especially true regarding health and diet products. There are consequences to that carelessness, and people tend to forget about potential consequences until the consequences actually manifest themselves. A good example of this phenomena is the broad acceptance of non-stick cookware. It is quite convenient, but it is far from safe.

If a bird inhales the toxic PFOA fumes that are produced by heated non-stick pans, its lungs will ulcerate and it will suffocate in its own body fluids. This is due to it having inhaled either polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Birds were used for centuries as an early warning system in mines, because they rapidly die whenever they are exposed to even small amounts of poison gas. Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are both fluoride compounds. Fluoride is a poison that depresses the thyroid, which can cause hypothyroidism, particularly with repeated exposure. It accumulates in the bones, teeth, and the pineal gland. It has been linked to brittle bone disease and cognitive problems. Fluoride is the main ingredient in some rat poisons.

We discovered studies that vastly contradict the marketing of the companies that sell non-stick pans. The E.P.A. reported that PFOA accumulates inside humans for years, and it has been verified to produce cancers in laboratory tests. It noted that the chemical particularly damaged the livers of rats, and it furthermore had a tendency to raise the triglyceride levels in humans. PFOA has been registered with the E.P.A. as a potential human carcinogen.

Dupont, the inventor of Teflon, was sued for withholding safety information about the use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in non-stick cookware. The Environmental Protection Agency filed the suit, claiming that "DuPont concealed its own 1981 research". Dupont records demonstrated that traces of this chemical were detected in a pregnant employee's unborn child, which proved that the company knew of the danger, since it had been pre-emptively testing for it in its own employees before anybody supposedly knew of the danger. In 1991, the company likewise omitted reporting its evidence that PFOA had contaminated the water supply of around 12,000 people. It was again sued by eight of the effected families. One of the plaintiffs was a DuPont factory worker, who bore a son with only one nostril and other facial defects. His son has since had about 30 surgeries. He and his spouse have opted not to have further children, lest they risk passing on the condition.

It is impossible to determine exactly what the fumes of the non-stick pans are doing to our bodies, because the research is so sparse. Although, Gary Craig ran into some obvious problems with the pans.

"About three or four years ago, I began having to urinate too often, including getting up five or six times at night. Gradually it got worse until it reached a peak a few months ago when I was urinating two or three times an hour all day long. [kidney failure] I noticed, however, that the problem went away when I left home to go on a trip. Within 24 to 48 hours of walking out my front door, my system returned to normal. Although I never used high heat (nothing above medium heat) I recalled that three or four years ago (about the time all this started) my mother gave me a Teflon frying pan. which I began using regularly. I stopped using the Teflon frying pan and BINGO! About 24 to 48 hours later the problem vanished."

This is far from the "flu-like symptoms" that many of the producing companies admit will occur when the pans are "overheated". They have defined "overheated" as reaching 500 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). It is important to remember that 500 degrees Fahrenheit can be reached with merely the medium temperature setting on some stoves, and some pans will emit the poison gases at much lower temperatures than is admitted by the manufacturers.

What Does PFOA Do to the Body?

Perhaps the hushed studies that have been done by DuPont since the 1950's will provide some enlightenment. Studies which used animals as test subjects revealed that non-stick cookware produces health issues in the following categories:

  • Children's health and development
  • Risks of liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary gland tumors
  • Altered thyroid hormone regulation
  • Generalized damage to the immune system
  • Reproductive problems and birth defects

We additionally recommend that people avoid aluminum cookware. Aluminum is a soft metal that will flake toxic metallic particles into foods being cooked with it especially if metal utensils are being used. Stainless steel is always a better option both for its low reactivity (low toxicity), and because this hardened steel will practically never output particles into food. Aluminum is an accumulative heavy metal that is known to lead to many degenerative diseases.

Old-fashioned cast iron pans are an even better alternative, and cast iron is naturally non-stick. Its inherent non-stick property means that cast iron is often easier to cook with than stainless steel, and it has the best heat distribution. Men who regularly eat food that is cooked in cast iron cookware should routinely consume something containing resveratrol, such as grape juice or red wine, in order to remove excessive iron from the blood.

High quality cookware is essential for cooking healthy food, so special care should be taken when purchasing cookware to ensure that none of it came from China.

Teflon Pans and Cancer: Is There a Link?

Q: I've heard that using Teflon nonstick pans for cooking can cause cancer. Is that true?

A: Tremendous confusion exists on this topic, but we're happy to report this belief is FALSE.

According to the findings of a 2006 Environmental Protection Agency scientific advisory panel, the primary chemical used to make Teflon -- perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA -- is a "likely human carcinogen." But that applies only to PFOA that has been emitted into the environment.

"The link between Teflon cookware and cancer is an entirely different subject," says Robert Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the two-part book series What Einstein Told His Cook. "There is no PFOA in the final Teflon product, so there is no risk that it will cause cancer in those who use Teflon cookware."

That said, Wolke warns, "heating a Teflon pan to 500 degrees or more" (as happens when we leave empty pans on high heat by mistake) can result in smoke and gases that can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and kill pet birds.

So keep an eye on your stovetop and keep your smoke alarms in good working order.

Is Aluminum Cookware Safe?

There are conflicting reports that cooking in aluminum pots and pans is risky because aluminum can leach into the food. Should aluminum cookware be avoided?

Lightweight aluminum is an excellent heat conductor, but it’s also highly reactive with acidic foods such as tomatoes, vinegar, and citrus. Cooking these in aluminum can alter the food’s flavor and appearance and leave the pan with a pitted surface. In our tests, we detected an unpleasant metallic taste in tomato sauce and lemon curd cooked in aluminum pots.

The amount of aluminum that leaches into food, however, is minimal. In lab tests, tomato sauce that we cooked in an aluminum pot for two hours and then stored in the same pot overnight was found to contain only .0024 milligrams of aluminum per cup. (A single antacid tablet may contain more than 200 milligrams of aluminum.) Our science editor reports that the consensus in the medical community is that using aluminum cookware poses no health threat.

In short: While untreated aluminum is not unsafe, it should not be used with acidic foods, which may ruin both the food and the cookware. Also note that aluminum cookware that has been anodized (hardened through a process that renders it nonreactive) or clad in a nonreactive material, such as stainless steel or a nonstick coating, does not leach into or react with foods.

Our favorite rimmed baking sheet is made out of aluminum and perfectly safe to use, but avoid cooking acidic foods on it.

Our favorite traditional skillet is clad in a non-reactive material (stainless steel) that surrounds an aluminum core for even heating. You can cook anything in these pans without risk.

Watch the video: Μαρμίτα Αλουμινίου Σφυρήλατη, Aluminum Saucepan, Alu Töpfe, Tenxhere alumini (February 2023).