Discovery of the material Teflon is a fluorinated polymer discovered on April 6,1938 in a laboratory of Du Pont de Nemours Company in New Jersey. The researchers in the laboratory were working on another material and this discovery happened accidentally when the researchers saw that the sample spontaneously polymerised and became a white and waxy solid.
Properties It strongly resists chemicals, solvents, humidity, and sun. Nothing adheres on its surface, as you can see when you cook!
Uses We can find it in some pieces of cars, telecommunication cables, industrial tubing, machines to fabricate electronic parts, in certain carpets, nail polish, kitchen equipment and utensils.
Teflon was also used in the first atomic bomb because it was able to resist to the corrosive effect of uranium hexafluorine. Its resistance was used to good effect in the Statue of Liberty restoration.
From laboratory to pan Because it adheres only on itself, researchers found how to attach it to the bottom of a pan. Its elements are covered with protective fluorine and then vaporized at very hot temperature in many thicknesses on a sandy layer which covers the bottom of the pan.
Many things could be said about fluorine…
From pan to plate « Normally » everything is ok. But some other researchers discovered that when this cladding was damaged, some toxic gas escaped and got into the air and food.
This damage could happen because hard subject scratch the surface, or because of washing with abrasive detergent. But the temperature of cooking seems to be important too. The manufacturer says that temperature is important only from 599°F – 350°C and that this temperature isn’t reached in ordinary cooking. But a contradictory study from EWG Environmental Working Group - broadcasted by the Ecologist newspaper lowered this temperature down to 446°F – 230°C , the same temperature of a pan after 2 to 5 minutes of cooking.
From plate to newspaper These toxic emissions would stop communication between the body’s cells, would damage mitochodria, affect free radical production and estrogen. The emissions could cause a metabolicimbalance: hyperthyroid problems, obesity, insulin resistance. And these toxic emissions would intensify as you continue to use your damaged pan.
From newspaper to manufacturer The first reaction came from the USA, because the pressure of EWG, an independant organization and EPA – Environmental Protection Agency – began to suspect the risk for human health and insisted that Du Pont de Nemours had to make public the risk of congenital malformation, illness, especially cancer, that this material could cause.
A group of 60,000 people living near a Teflon factory in Ohio won a lawsuit worth 340 million dollars from Du Pont de Nemours after the contamination of their drinking water was proved.