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I've been reading some articles on the internet about dangers of Teflon and aluminium to the body.

My family say I'm just exaggerating the situation, and maybe I am, though I'm not sure because not everything on the internet is true. They always tell me that if aluminium were dangerous then why would the government allow the use of aluminium bottles in drinks.

Are there strong references and facts to support dangers associated with aluminium or Teflon cookware? If aluminium or other chemicals enter the body from cookware, are they naturally eliminated, or do they remain in the body?

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I was recently taught in a module on chemical toxins that the Al in deodorants was more concerning because it was more readily being absorbed in the blood and that heavy deodorant users had higher circulating levels of Al in the blood. I'm looking into actual sources now. This question may also need some rephrasing to be sure it is not a personal health question. –  Atl LED Jul 19 '13 at 18:57
    
I think that teflon that is still teflon is pretty darned chemically inert... the dangers are in teflon that has been damaged by heat and in the production of teflon which uses horrible chemicals... also Al metal is less dangerous than Al+3 compounds... and even then, most aren't soluble at all, but some give good routes to ingestion especially antacids. –  Grady Player Jul 19 '13 at 19:01
    
@Daniela Diaz, I've edited the question so as to make it more useful to other users, and taken a stab at answering it below. I hope the edited question still reflects your intentions. –  Oreotrephes Jul 22 '13 at 8:18
    
@Oreotrephes Your edition is perfect. Thanks so much. –  Daniela Diaz Jul 22 '13 at 8:48

2 Answers 2

The US Department of Health and Human Services has a nice set of factsheets on aluminum. In brief, and to specifically answer your questions, they point out that:

  • Aluminum occurs naturally in air, water, soil, and plants.

  • The amounts of aluminum that we encounter in pots and pans are considered to be safe for healthy people. Cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots increases the amount ingested, but is still considered to be safe; and it still represents many times less aluminum than in over-the-counter antacids, which are also considered safe.

  • Much of the aluminum we ingest leaves ones body naturally through the digestive system (that is, feces), and is not taken up into the bloodstream. The small amount of aluminum that makes it to our bloodstream is mostly quickly eliminated in urine. Those with kindey problems may not process this bloodstream aluminum as quickly.

Nonstick pan coatings are a little more difficult, probably because they're so diverse. Cookware isn't even mentioned as a source on the factsheet for perflouroalkyls, the chemical which has been mentioned in connection with nonstick pan health issues. The US Environmental Protection Agency FAQ says:

Consumer products made with perfluorochemicals include some non-stick cookware ... Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers [NB. I assume they mean overheating nonstick pans]. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern.

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This is one of the articles I read: globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/… It contains some references and basically my concern is the part where it says that aluminium accumulates in different parts of the body and it causes problems with calcium absorption and demineralization, and also that is bad for the brain. –  Daniela Diaz Jul 22 '13 at 8:47
    
Well, it's always good to see citations. However, I would approach with a cautious eye any article that ends with an appeal to buy a product from the author. –  Oreotrephes Jul 22 '13 at 8:55

Teflon® is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and it has been used since 1940s (discovered by DuPont Co.). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, also known as C8) is another man-made chemical and it is used in the process of making Teflon and similar chemicals (known as fluorotelomers), although it is burned off during the process and is not present in significant amounts in the final products.

Teflon itself is not suspected of causing cancer, but PFOA has the potential to be more of a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that PFOA is present at very low levels in just about everyone's blood in the US and it can be found at low levels in some foods, drinking water, and in household dust. It can be higher in areas due to contamination. People can be exposed to PFOA from fabrics, ski wax or carpeting which has been treated to be stain resistant. However non-stick cookware is not a significant source of exposure.

Studies in laboratory animals have found that PFOA exposure increases the risk of certain tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and the pancreas in these animals. Overall, well-conducted animal studies do a good job predicting that cause cancer in humans exposures. But for PFOA, there are clear differences in the way the body of laboratory animals and humans handle this chemical. Because of these differences, it is clear that the process chemical to cause cancer in animals also occur in humans.

Human studies have shown that people with workplace exposure to PFOS have a higher risk of cancer of the bladder and kidneys.

Several national and international agencies studying various substances in the environment, to determine if they cause cancer (carcinogens, substances that cause cancer and help cancer grow). However, at this time, these agencies do not formally assessed whether PFOA can cause cancer. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an electronic database that contains information on human health effects from exposure to various substances in the environment, has not officially classified PFOA as to its carcinogenicity.

Other than the possible risk of fumes from overheating the pan, there are no known risks to humans using Teflon-coated cookware. When PFOA is used to make Teflon, does not occur (or not present in very small amounts) in a Teflon-coated products. Because the way by which people may be exposed to PFOS are not known, it is not clear what steps to take for people to reduce exposure.

Currently, EPA states:

"Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern. At present, the EPA does not recommend any steps for consumers to take to reduce exposures to PFOA."

Source: Teflon and Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) at Cancer.org

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