Dhaka, May 25, 2017: Use of non-stick pots and pans on a daily basis, means exposure to hidden dangers. Non- stick cookware is made using a carcinogenic chemical which starts emitting toxic fumes that one inhale every time while cooking with a non-stick pot! Environment and Social Development Organization- ESDO disclosed these findings through their study report entitled, “Uses of Non-stick Utensils and Associated Health and Environmental Impacts”. Syed Marghub Murshed, former Secretary and Chairperson of ESDO launched the study report at the press briefing yesterday at its head office in Dhaka.
Non-Stick cookware is the name of one of those technologies, that make our daily life comfortable and easy. But it can act as a threat to our health and environment. Cooking in non-stick cookware allows food to get brown without sticking to the pan. It requires least amount of oil for cooking. According to the study, the non-stick surface is coated with Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commercially known as Teflon. When the cookware is over heated it releases Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOAs). PFOA has been labeled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as carcinogenic.
In response to question from journalist, Abu Jafor Mahmood, Superannuated Professor of Department of Chemistry, DU, said “It is responsible for severe illness such as cancer, hormonal imbalance, birth defect in new babies, polymer fume fever in human and can kill birds. This toxic element is also released during manufacturing process and possesses risk to workers, especially female workers. Because female organs are vulnerable to this toxic element. It can be exposed to their body and cause harm to the babies through infecting the fetus”.
In Bangladesh, housewives, children and pet animals are becoming the greatest victim of the poisonous gas release from it because of the increased use of non-stick cookware. According to ESDO’s recent survey, in Dhaka city, women of all ages are getting affected by this pollution. Among 450 women, about 421 are suffering from the problem of kidney and asthma. Among 378 women about 25 to 35 women are suffering from pregnancy related problem. Among children, about 310 are suffering from the problem of kidney and asthma. In case of households, (who keep pet animals), according to the survey result , about 211 pet animals died with 6 months. This primary survey is showing this kind of destructive picture, which is a threat to our future generation.
In a pursuit to make non-stick coating manufacturing safer, industry officials of developed countries have made pledges to limit the use of PFOA and eventually phase it out of all production methods. But, there is no initiative on this issue in Bangladesh. Ceramics and stainless steel are considered non-reactive and can be used as alternative to non-stick cook ware.
In response to question from a journalist, Syed Marghub Murshed said, toxic pollutant in non-stick cooking utensils is a new phenomenon in Bangladesh but it can act as a serious health and environmental threat. He said that, we need to address this issue with high priority to protect our ecosystem, wildlife and human health.
Secretary General of ESDO and ecosystem expert Dr. Shahriar Hossain informed that, non-stick cookware is not the main problem. Our main concern is the toxic chemical used to manufacture it. When toxic compound like Teflon is being used in non stick coating, it becomes a threat to both health and environment. Teflon releases toxic fumes while cooking. “Incineration of Teflon wastes produces different toxic gases like PFOA, Trifluroacetic acid (TFA), which get released into the atmosphere. PFOA and TFA are very persistent, take literally millions of years to biodegrade. All these toxic gases go into air, water, soil and pollute them. Water bodies near the manufacturing industries get readily polluted by the toxic discharges. High concentrations of TFA in water can be toxic to plants. When TFA enters the atmosphere, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) break down and it exits in rainwater. We really cannot imagine that how long-term the environmental impacts can be!”, he added.
Amongst other, Siddika Sultana, Executive Director, ESDO, were there to share their opinion about the importance of regulation to limit the use of Teflon in manufacturing non-stick products. Afrida Nazibah, researcher of this study, presented the findings and related information of the study at the event.
ESDO urge the government of Bangladesh and the people to come forward and raise the voice to enact legislation to phase out the use of Teflon in the manufacturing of non-stick cookware. They stressed formass public awareness for immediate ban of Teflon containing products, stop production, sale and import of them.
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