Millions of microplastic particles can be released into your food if you cook it in a scratched non-stick pan, according to a new Australian study. Just one scratch is all it takes to release these harmful particular, which are known to be vectors for dangerous endocrine-disrupting chemicals like PFAS.

Per-and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals”, are non-stick, heat-proof particles used to make huge amounts of kitchenware items the world over.

These chemicals are so ubiquitous now that a 2020 study found that 99% of Americans have them in their blood.

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Non-stick frying pans: microplastic contamination

The researchers found that just one five cm scratch to a Teflon pan, easily caused when using a spatula or other implement, released up to 2.3million microplastics.

Despite these risks, there are no existing federal regulations in the US on the amount of PFAS that are allowed to be on the surface of manufactured goods.

“Given the fact PFAS is a big concern, these Teflon microparticles in our food might be a health concern so needs investigating because we don’t know much about these emerging contaminants,” said Dr Cheng Fang, a senior research fellow at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

The researchers used Raman imaging to study the prevalence of particles coming off of the pans. This technique involves using light waves to monitor how particles spread and interact with one another in a certain space. The light waves can track how many particles there are and how they move around.

Concern has been growing about PFAS exposure for some time, and they were one of the principal endocrine-disrupting chemicals discussed in the recent Tucker Carlson documentary, The End of Men.

University of Texas study last year, for instance, found that children exposed to PFAS in the womb were more likely to develop autism.

Long-term exposure is also klnown to leave a person at higher risk of kidney, testicular, ovarian, prostate, thyroid and bone marrow cancer when they reach adulthood.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended in guidance issued in July that PFAS levels should not exceed 0.004 parts per trillion (ppt) in drinking water. Several states, including Maine, have also moved to ban its use in products including clothing and bedding.

But some fear that these dangerous chemicals are so ubiquitous in American life that they cannot be avoided.

Sydney Evans, an analyst at the Washington DC-base advocacy firm the Environmental Working Group, told that: “It’s really hard to shop your way out if [PFAS exposure].”

“You can get rid of [one product], but the thing you replace it with will also have PFAS.”

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