News - Do You Know What's on Your Non-Stick Pan?

If you have used a non-stick pan to fry food at home, you must have noticed the black coating on the cook surface of the metal pan.  This layer of coating is made of fluoropolymers, which also has a commercial name under the Teflon™ brand. Because of the presence of organic fluorine, it renders the surface of the pan a unique property, such as water and oil repellant. 

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8, is an essential processing aid during the production of the above-mentioned fluoropolymers.  Besides this application, PFOA has also been widely used in other industrial products, such as carpets, leathers, textiles, paper packaging, etc.  The existence of PFOA in the environment is mainly from discharge of waste water in a manufacturing plant of fluoropolymers.  PFOA can also be generated from the degradation of precursors of fluoropolymers.  Surface and ground water susceptible to PFOA contamination could become a concern due to the use by other industries and product disposal from municipal and industrial waste sites. 

PFOA is a highly stable compound due to the strong carbon-fluorine bond.  This stability is desirable as a product but is a cause of environmental concern because of its resistance from degradation by natural processes such as metabolism, hydrolysis, photolysis or bio-degradation resulting in its longer lifetime in the environment.  Historically, PFOA has been reported in waste water, soils and bio-solids.  The research on PFOA has demonstrated its toxicity for animals and some associations with human health parameters and potential health effects such as kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, etc. 

The EPA began requiring public water systems (PWS's) to monitor PFOA and Perfluorooctanoic Sulfonate (PFOS) in 2012 under the Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 3).  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amended in 1996 requires EPA issue a new list of no more than 30 unregulated contaminants to be monitored by PWS's every five years.  In 2016, the EPA published drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS to assist federal and state drinking water systems in protecting public health when the chemicals are present in drinking water.  The levels of PFOA and PFOS concentration under which adverse health effects are not anticipated to occur over a lifetime of exposure are 0.07ppb.   In 2016, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has published an analysis based on the monitoring reports submitted to EPA covering 5,000 PWS's in 45 states and the district of Columbia.  The finding from this analysis indicated the presence of unsafe levels of PFOA in about 0.3 % of PWS’s.

Concerned about PFOA and PFOS? Ana-Lab Corporation can test both using LC-MS (EPA method 537).  Should you need testing or have questions about testing, please contact us.

Ana-Lab has been offering superior analytical lab services since 1965.

Bill Peery

Bill Peery is the Vice President of Technical Services and has been with Ana-Lab for over 30 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science degree in Software Engineering from Lamar University. He also earned his Master's degree in Computer Science and Chemistry from the University of Texas at Tyler.