Is Teflon Risky?

Nonstick pots can emit nasty stuff if used incorrectly

The amazingly slippery, heat-resistant plastic known as Teflon was discovered purely by accident by DuPont chemist Roy Plunkett in 1938. By 1950, the company was making a million pounds annually as a low-friction coating for bearings and gears. In 1960 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in cookware. Today some 60% of all pots and pans in American kitchens are nonstick--to say nothing of muffin pans, cookie sheets, cake pans, deep fryers and waffle irons.

Unfortunately, it turns out that when Teflon is heated to over 600°, the coating can break down and release a chemical called...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!