Non-stick cookware came about by a fluke. In 1938, DuPont created Teflon while researching refrigerants. The substance was slippery but resistant to temperature, chemicals and even mould and fungus. In 1952, a Frenchman, Marc Gregoire, invented a way to adhere Teflon to his fishing gear to prevent tangles. His wife Colette asked him to try it on her pans and the ease of cooking with Teflon soon spread like melted butter.
The next generation of coated cookware is anodised cookware. While Teflon has caused many health concerns, anodised cookware has people questioning its long-term safety.
Anodised aluminium was developed under the Calphalon brand from the Rubbermaid company. It is somewhat similar to Teflon's non-stick surface. An important difference is that unlike Teflon, anodised aluminium is scratch resistant.
An electrochemical procedure, anodising locks the base metal aluminium. Anodising results when metal--in this case aluminium--is inserted in a bath of electrolytes. A current of electricity is sent through the bath. This process creates a thick, protective coating over the aluminium.
This process transforms the metal into hard, stick-resistant cookware that is also resistant to rust and corrosion. Metal cooking utensils can be used without scratching.
The aluminium metal used in anodised cookware is a health concern. Aluminium is the most abundant metal element on earth. It is found in the air, water and soil. An average person consumes 3 to 10 mg of aluminium every day. However, too much can cause toxicity and lead to conditions such as rickets, colic, anaemia, bone deterioration, memory loss and diminished kidney and liver function. Alzheimer's has been linked to aluminium overexposure.
The concern is, does anodised aluminium leach aluminium into food consumed by people?
The University of Cincinnati Medical Center performed a study showing that cooking tomatoes in aluminium pots doubled the aluminium in the tomatoes from 2 to 4 mg for each serving.
According to Planet Green, anodised aluminium cookware does not allow the aluminium to leach into food, but not everyone is convinced.
Anodising aluminium may prevent leaching but the popular product has other health concerns. A chemical called Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also called Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), is associated with many of the Teflon concerns. It is blamed for producing toxic fumes. The cuisinart brand of hard anodised aluminium is coated with a non-stick coating called Quantanium. Quantanium has been claimed to be a form of PTFE and, therefore, has the same toxic properties as Teflon.
If the anodised aluminium cookware does have a Teflon-like coating, there could be serious health concerns. The EPA has taken administration action against DuPont for not warning consumers of potential health risks.
According to The Optimum Health Report, "Teflon is so prevalent that PF0A has been found to contaminate 92% of U.S. children tested to date, and most of the adult population as well."
The anodising process itself doesn't appear to have any health issues. The major concerns are focused on; does it leach aluminium and is the cookware coated with a PTFE like material?
According to Brandy Wine Science Center Inc. anodised aluminium does leach. This information is the result of a heavy metal leaching test performed on various cookware. The results show it leaches 7.10 mg per litre. No information is provided on this level of leaching and normal consumption levels.
Pantry Magic show in their "use and care tips and instructions" that Quantanium is equal to Teflon. They go on to state that the coating will wear out over time.