Forever Chemicals – What is the danger?

Forever chemical is a term given to chemicals that take a very long time to degrade. Once ingested, in human beings, it takes between four and eight years to leave. Unfortunately, you are likely to consume it again, almost every single day. It is available in all our homes.

In 1946, the world was introduced to Teflon, a non-stick material that came to coat our pots and pans. The waterproof compound used to make things non-stick is a chemical known as PFA or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. A pan or skillet to which food does not stick sounds amazing. Anyone who has cooked would know that.

PFA’s or forever chemicals have also been linked to a host of diseases. Some of the chemicals found in PFA’s have been phased out after pressure was mounted on the manufacturers. Numerous studies have shown that you are at risk for kidney, liver and pancreatic cancer, low birth weight for your child, a disruption of your hormonal system and an increase in cholesterol.

In 2019, Mark Ruffalo, the American actor, acted in a film called Dark Waters that tells us one story of a lawyer who sued and won a case against companies making PFA’s. The company paid over $700 million without accepting any responsibility. The risk was that chemicals were leaking into our water where it was being produced, causing widespread harm to the local population. So what can you do?

One of the risks is living near one of the plants that manufacture these products. If the chemicals are not treated properly, it can leak into the environment. Using products coated with non-stick material in your kitchen is the other risk. I looked at the alternatives to non-stick and did not find anything that was ideal. Ceramic and cast iron were suggested as alternatives. However, even cursory reading indicates that they are not acceptable alternatives. If you want to eliminate the risk, not making food that require a non-stick surface might be the best option.


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