The New York State Department of Health has announced the results of various safety tests performed on several popular brands of nonstick cookware. They conclude the products are safe when used properly.
The villain under fire is PFOA, a compound the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has studied intensely since it was suspected to be a human carcinogen. It has been noted that most of the harmful chemical is burned off of the cookware before it leaves the factory. It was found that new nonstick cookware heated to 356 to 444 degrees F. did emit PFOA, both into the air and into the water that was being heated, but the amounts were "very little." The amounts emitted also declined with each subsequent use. The highest level found was 100 times lower than Consumer Reports concluded to be of little concern to public health. Concerns regarding the breakdown of the product and the release of toxic particles and fumes over time have also been addressed. It has been shown that such a breakdown of materials only occurs when the cookware is heated beyond normal - to temps. above 500 degrees F. At that temp., foods will burn and the handles will melt. When the cookware coating becomes damaged or begins to flake with age, it's time to replace it.
~ Environmental Science Technology, 41:1180, 2007