I believe to have seen conflicting information regarding the question of whether cooking with PTFE coated kitchenware can be unhealthy.

For the purpose of this question, let's assume the pan is not overheated because that's something I feel I can control.

Wikipedia says

On their introduction in the 1940s, PFASs were considered inert. (!) [19][20] Early occupational studies revealed elevated levels of fluorochemicals, including perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, C8), in the blood of exposed industrial workers, but cited no ill health effects.[21][22] These results were consistent with the measured serum concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in 3M plant workers ranging from 0.04 to 10.06 ppm and 0.01 to 12.70 ppm, respectively, well below toxic and carcinogenic levels cited in animal studies.[22] Given, however, the "forever chemical" property of PFASs (serum elimination half-life of 4–5 years) and widespread environmental contamination, molecules have been shown to accumulate in humans to such a degree that adverse health outcomes have resulted.[19]

However, many sources still hold that ingesting Teflon particles from a pan coating is harmless, because the PTFE is "inert" (cf. here, translated from German):

“If you use Teflon pans as intended, as intended by the manufacturer, no substances are transferred to food that could have a negative impact on your health,” explains Dr. Thomas Tietz from the Federal Office for Risk Assessment. Even if the Teflon coating comes off when frying, this is harmless to health: "PTFE, Teflon is a polymer that is inert. That means it is stable and inert. It does not react with anything and the way you scrape the crumbs out of the pan, so to speak , absorbed above through the mouth, they are also excreted below."

So which is it?

Thanks for your help, Damian

  • You're comparing apples and oranges. Working in a factory that produces PFAS isn't comparable to using a Teflon pan in the home, so these two sources aren't actually in conflict.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jan 5 at 19:24
  • Yeah, I agree, it's quite an imprecise question. But I'd like to zoom in on the usage of "inert". Isn't that a quite universal property? Or can something be "inert" as a solid, and not "inert" as a gas or say "inert" when ingested but not "inert" when inhaled? Commented Jan 6 at 11:48
  • I think that's a question for Chemistry.SE
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Jan 6 at 16:17


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