Indeed, though PFOA has been banned, PTFE’s status as a safer alternative remains largely unproven, allowing chemical-industry giants such as DuPont, which makes Teflon, to continue selling the product to unsuspecting consumers.
Worse yet, in October 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Nancy Beck, a Trump appointee who previously worked for the American Chemistry Council, changed the rules surrounding the regulation of chemicals like PFOA and PTFE, intentionally making it more difficult to track health effects.
“The EPA’s abrupt new direction on legacy chemicals is part of a broad initiative by the Trump administration to change the way the federal government evaluates health and environmental risks associated with hazardous chemicals,” reads a 2017 New York Times article on Beck’s decision, “making it more aligned with the industry’s wishes.”
So, how can consumers best protect themselves from PTFE? Choose naturally nonstick cookware made from cast iron, ceramic or stainless steel, or find cookware with a PTFE-free coating like silicone. Or, better yet, vote.
“You are never going to have 100 percent certainty on anything,” EPA scientist Wendy Cleland-Hamnett told The New York Times. “But when you have a chemical that evidence points to is causing fatalities, you err more on the side of taking some action, as opposed to ‘Let’s wait and spend some more time and try to get the science entirely certain,’ which it hardly ever gets to be.”