I've had this post percolating in my Draft box for a while. I was prompted to post it immediately because of a post I saw tonight on the Cushing's Help and Support
message board: Cushing's is rare, eh?
. CJS noted that many people in her small town in Canada were being tested for Cushing's and/or friends and family members had pituitary tumors present.
In response to that post, I want to share some other information that I found quite alarming, as I know you will, too.
It all started with a simple internet search for new pots and pans. Ours had scratches at the bottom of them for some time, and since we were using our old bachelor/bachelorette pots and pans, we decided to buy us some new ones. Like many purchases before, we decided to research our 'green' alternatives. We wanted Le Creuset
, France's best cookware, but we were trying to find a less expensive alternative. My husband is a consumer reports kinda buyer, so I put him on the job to read through all the muckety muck and present the choices to me.
My heart came to a stop. The reason that I believe Cushing's is much more common than the medical community can fathom is that the source is as ubiquitous as air.
Specifically, that means that there are health dangers lurking in our home, and I purport that the cookware in our kitchens may have something to do with it. More specifically, communities where these chemicals are produced may have a higher prevalence of pituitary tumors, too.
I read the sales pitch for Mercola cookware
on a site my husband suggested for me. It cited its sources, and I encourage you to read through them.
What Hidden Health Hazards Lurk in Your Cookware Cabinet?
Teflon is the most popular cookware in America. So what's wrong with it?
Well, for starters, teflon-coated aluminum contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a synthetic chemical used in its production, creating its soap-like slipperiness and non-stick finish. PFOA has become very controversial because of health dangers linked to it.
• In April of 2006, multiple class action lawsuits were filed against DuPont representing consumers in twenty states and the District of Columbia. DuPont was charged with exposing millions of Americans to health risks from pans containing PFOA. (And that DuPont knew of the risks but failed to disclose them.) 1
Get rid of that Teflon and other potentially dangerous cookware today!
• In May 2006, DuPont said it received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department's Environmental Crimes Section to turn over documents about PFOA safety. This came just a month after DuPont settled a lawsuit -- with a fine of $10.25 million -- by the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that DuPont hid health data about PFOA for twenty years. 2,3
• In March 2006, a scientific advisory panel to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advised that PFOA be labeled a "likely carcinogen".4 Manufacturers are to phase out 95 percent of production by 2010, and totally by 2015. It is important to note that this is a voluntary reduction by manufacturers.
Yet, despite mounting evidence, DuPont still claims that PFOA is safe ...
Just How Dangerous IS PFOA?
In animal studies, PFOA posed health hazards like:
• Serious changes in organs including the brain, prostate, liver, thymus, and kidneys, showing toxicity.
• Death of several rat pups that were exposed to PFOA.
• Changes in the pituitary in female rats, at all doses. The pituitary controls growth, reproduction, and many metabolic functions. Changes in the size of the pituitary are considered an indication of toxicity.
• PFOA has been associated with tumors in at least four different organs in animal tests, and has been implicated in an increase in prostate cancer in PFOA plant workers. 5
My Concern: You Could Be Endangering Your Family and Pets Just by Cooking with Teflon
In studies of heated non-stick pans on conventional stove tops commissioned by the consumer watchdog organization Environmental Working Group, it only took 2-5 minutes to reach temperatures producing dangerous toxins. The coating begins to break down and release toxins into the air at only 446 degrees. 6
But wait! It doesn't stop here. At 680 degrees (3 to 5 minutes), non-stick pans release at least six toxic gasses, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants and MFA, a chemical deadly to humans at low doses.7 The vapors from using these pans with high heat also caused instant death to pet birds.
I don't want you to make yourself, your family or your pets "canaries in the coal mine" with hazardous cookware!
I'm afraid the "canary in the coal mine" is not a myth. In cases of "Teflon toxicosis", the lungs of exposed birds hemorrhage and fill with fluid, leading to what must be an agonizing death from suffocation. Is it such a stretch to wonder what these fumes could be doing to you and your children?
Even DuPont acknowledges that the fumes can make you sick -- they call it "polymer fume fever". They list the symptoms as: fever between 100 and 104 degrees, chest tightness, shortness of breath, headache, cough, chills, and sore throat, based on a survey of workers who complained of the illness. 8
Although this type of cookware is most widely known by the brand name Teflon, there are many other nonstick brand names that contain this toxic coating, including: Silverstone, Fluron, Supra, Excalibur, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph and T-Fal, to name just a few.
I researched more online, and I found Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.
Here is one EWG article from January 2005 entitled, EWG Assessment of EPA Draft Human Health Risk Assessment for the Teflon Chemical PFOA
Pituitary gland damage. EPA scientists determined that the Teflon chemical damages the pituitary gland — the master gland of the body controlling a host of critical life functions (EPA 2002; York 2002). In its new assessment EPA has chosen to ignore this important potential health impact, even as it admits that it is statistically significant, because scientists do not fully understand why the effects peak in the middle instead of the top end of the dosing range.
I found the Environmental Working Group's article entitled, PFCs: Global Contaminants: DuPont’s Spin About PFOA
DuPont emphasizes that the liver is the most important target organ for PFOA toxicity. PFOA causes toxicity to virtually every organ or system tested, including the brain, pituitary, adrenal gland, thyroid, ovary, male reproductive tract, immune system and kidney. PFOA also causes mammary, testicular, pancreatic and liver tumors. Effects on the ovary, pituitary, kidney, spleen and seminal vesicles were affected by PFOA at or below doses where liver effects were observed.
I found the Environmental Working Group's article from May 2008 entitled, Major Study of Teflon Chemical in People Suggests Harm To Immune System, Liver, Thyroid
Thyroid damage: Higher blood PFOA levels are associated with changes in thyroid hormone levels. Thyroid hormone is critical for normal growth and development; the developing brain of a child is particularly vulnerable to damage from thyroid hormone changes.
I am horrified about this. With all we hear in the news, why can't I remember ever seeing this on my TV?
As a geographer and a Cushie, I am interested in partnering with anyone who wants to do further research on this topic. As a gal who grew up in Houston within 20 miles of all those petrochemical plants, I am interested to see how big business may have affected all of us. In fact, wikipedia lists these as DuPont's locations:
In this article in the Environmental Health Program with the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
"In a recent article, Tillett (2007) reported on research by the University of Pennsylvania NIEHS (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology (CEET). CEET deputy director Edward Emmett described analyses of perfluorooctaonic acid (PFOA) in blood serum collected during mid-2004 from residents of towns near DuPont’s Teflon production facility in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Results of the analyses, which identified PFOA levels “60–75 times higher than in the general population,” were presented at a community meeting in October 2005, and “[DuPont] began offering bottled water to all residents being serviced in the Little Hocking Water District within days” of the meeting (Tillett 2007)."
DuPont's corporate headquarters are located in Wilmington, Delaware. The company’s manufacturing, processing, marketing and research and development facilities, as well as regional purchasing offices and distribution centers are located throughout the world. Major manufacturing sites include the Spruance plant near Richmond, Virginia (currently the company's largest plant), the Bayport plant near Houston (this is near me), the Mechelen site in Belgium, and the Changshu site in China.
After all this, I just didn't want to do anything to jeopardize my health any further. We saved up then spent $400 on 6 pieces of cookware: a few skillets, a few roasting pans, a dutch oven, and a few others at a Le Creuset outlet. I have never looked back. Every time I use them, I think about how I may be saving the lives of my sweet daughter and my future grand babies with all the meals and treats I will prepare in those pots.
Plus, I look forward to collecting Le Creuset cookware in beautiful colors
. I will pass these on to my family. And like all good heirlooms, these will have an important story behind them.