Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Popcorn, hold the PFOA

Cruising through the latest news in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, I came across an article on PFOA (you know, those fluoropolymers that just a couple of years ago resulted in people tossing out their old non-stick pans, and returning to the heavy iron frying pans that could really knock someone out,) in both non-stick pans and, even more interestingly in the coating of microwave popcorn bags. The chemicals are known to accumulate in the environment (I've got a longer article on this in Green Living if you want to read more.)

The work, led by Kurnthachalam Kannan, published just this month in ES&T, reveals that yes, PFOA and related chemicals (for example chemicals called fluorotelomer alcohols or FTOHs) are released into the air from pans heated to normal cooking temperatures, and even into water boiled in these pans. The good news, was that the amounts released, in most cases, was reduced with repeated use.

But here's what's interesting, Kannan's group also reported that PFOA and FTOHs were released into the air from the packaging used for certain (unnamed brands) of microwave popcorn, and in some cases the amount of FTOHs released from popcorn bags was greater than amounts released from cookware.

SO, the next time you cook popcorn, you might want to do it the old fashioned way, in your new iron pot!

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