Nonstick cookware came about by a fluke. In 1938, DuPont created Teflon while researching refrigerants. The substance was slippery but resistant to temperature, chemicals and even mold and fungus. In 1952, a Frenchman, Marc Gregoire, invented a way to adhere Teflon to his fishing gear to prevent tangles. His wife Colette asked him to try it on her pans and the ease of cooking with Teflon soon spread like melted butter.
The next generation of coated cookware is anodized cookware. While Teflon has caused many health concerns, anodized cookware has people questioning its long-term safety.
Anodized aluminum was developed under the Calphalon brand from the Rubbermaid company. It is somewhat similar to Teflon’s non-stick surface. An important difference is that unlike Teflon, anodized aluminum is scratch resistant.
An electro-chemical procedure, anodizing locks the base metal aluminum. Anodizing results when metal–in this case aluminum–is inserted in a bath of electrolytes. A current of electricity is sent through the bath. This process creates a thick, protective coating over the aluminum.
This process transforms the metal into hard, stick-resistant cookware that is also resistant to rust and corrosion. Metal cooking utensils can be used without scratching.
The aluminum metal used in anodized cookware is a health concern. Aluminum is the most abundant metal element on earth. It is found in the air, water and soil. An average person consumes 3 to 10 mg of aluminum every day. However, too much can cause toxicity and lead to conditions such as rickets, colic, anemia, bone deterioration, memory loss and diminished kidney and liver function. Alzheimer’s has been linked to aluminum overexposure.
The concern is, does anodized aluminum leach aluminum into food consumed by people?
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center performed a study showing that cooking tomatoes in aluminum pots doubled the aluminum in the tomatoes from 2 to 4 mg for each serving.
According to Planet Green, anodized aluminum cookware does not allow the aluminum to leach into food, but not everyone is convinced.
Anodizing aluminum may prevent leaching but the popular product has other health concerns. A chemical called Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also called Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), is associated with many of the Teflon concerns. It is blamed for producing toxic fumes. The Cuisinart brand of hard anodized aluminum is coated with a non-stick coating called Quantanium. Quantanium has been claimed to be a form of PTFE and, therefore, has the same toxic properties as Teflon.
If the anodized aluminum cookware does have a Teflon-like coating, there could be serious health concerns. The EPA has taken administration action against DuPont for not warning consumers of potential health risks.
According to The Optimum Health Report, “Teflon is so prevalent that PF0A has been found to contaminate 92% of U.S. children tested to date, and most of the adult population as well.”
The anodizing process itself doesn’t appear to have any health issues. The major concerns are focused on; does it leach aluminum and is the cookware coated with a PTFE like material?
According to Brandy Wine Science Center Inc. anodized aluminum does leach. This information is the result of a heavy metal leaching test performed on various cookware. The results show it leaches 7.10 mg per liter. No information is provided on this level of leaching and normal consumption levels.
Pantry Magic show in their “use and care tips and instructions” that Quantanium is equal to Teflon. They go on to state that the coating will wear out over time.
References and ResourcesUltimate Cookware
Planet Green Discovery
The Optimum Health Report
Brandy Wine Science Center