Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chemicals In Frying Pan A Potential Hazard To Environment

Date:
July 19, 2001
Source:
University Of Toronto
Summary:
The next time you reach for your non-stick frying pan to scramble some eggs, you may want to think again. Researchers at the University of Toronto, Environment Canada and University of Guelph have discovered that using products containing Teflon and other fluorinated polymers releases a cocktail of chemicals into the environment.

The next time you reach for your non-stick frying pan to scramble some eggs, you may want to think again. Researchers at the University of Toronto, Environment Canada and University of Guelph have discovered that using products containing Teflon and other fluorinated polymers releases a cocktail of chemicals into the environment.

Related Articles


In a study to be published in the July 19 issue of Nature, researchers found that fluorinated polymers degrade when heated. They produce, among other chemicals, trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), a persistent compound whose long-term effects on the environment are unknown, trace amounts of ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and longer-chain perfluorocarboxylates, which accumulate in animal tissues.

The use of CFCs -- widely used in refrigeration systems, aerosols, styrofoam and other products in the 1960s and 70s -- has been replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFCs) gases. Unlike CFCs, these gases break down in the atmosphere and return to Earth in the form of rainwater. However, the rainwater can contain TFA, an acidic byproduct that takes many decades to degrade.

"By measuring TFA levels in rainwater over the last three to four years, researchers estimated there should be 100 to 120 parts per trillion in the water by the year 2020," says David Ellis, lead author of the study and PhD graduate, now working in U of T's chemistry department. "We unexpectedly discovered the TFA levels have far exceeded that amount and we wanted to know why."

The researchers hypothesized that fluorinated polymers like Teflon were to blame. They heated various products containing fluoropolymers at various temperatures and found they emitted up to 10 per cent of TFA. They also discovered the average annual global production of fluorinated polymers was 40,000 tonnes in 1988, a figure that had increased by more than 200 per cent in 1997.

While research has not uncovered harmful effects of TFA on people, there is cause for concern, says Scott Mabury, who supervised the study and is a U of T chemistry professor. "High concentrations of TFA in water can be mildly phytotoxic (toxic to plants) but, more importantly, it will take decades for TFA to degrade. We don't know what the long-term environmental impacts are."

The scientists also found that fluoropolymer material releases small amounts of CFCs into the atmosphere which can contribute to ozone depletion.

This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; the equipment used in experiments was donated by Perkin Elmer Canada.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Toronto. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Toronto. "Chemicals In Frying Pan A Potential Hazard To Environment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 July 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010719080702.htm>.
University Of Toronto. (2001, July 19). Chemicals In Frying Pan A Potential Hazard To Environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010719080702.htm
University Of Toronto. "Chemicals In Frying Pan A Potential Hazard To Environment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/07/010719080702.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Could Cheap Oil Help Fix U.S. Roads?

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) As falling oil prices boost Americans' spending power, the U.S. government is also gaining flexibility from savings on oil. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

Raw: Russian Surfers Brave Icy Cold Waters

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) Surfers in Russia's biggest port city on the Pacific Ocean, Vladivostok, were enjoying the sport on Saturday despite below freezing temperatures and icy cold waters. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins