Quick Facts about Teflon:
Teflon® is a well-known brand name for Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and is used as a non-stick coating for cookware and ovens. It is also used in the medical setting as a coating on catheters which helps prevent infection by stopping germs from sticking to the surface of the catheter.
Normal use of Teflon coated cookware is not a danger to people or pets, but these non-stick pans can release fumes when overheated at very high temperatures, especially when there is poor ventilation. People exposed to these fumes can experience “polymer fume fever” resulting in symptoms similar to the flu (chills, fever, cough, chest tightness and difficulty breathing).
If you are exposed to the fumes from overheated Teflon move away from the toxic area and into fresh air as soon as possible. Call the Missouri Poison Center right away for expert advice on the next steps. Often, our callers are able to manage these symptoms at home, but if the symptoms are persistent or if there is immediate breathing problems, prompt medical attention is needed. Don’t forget to move pets to fresh air. There are many reports of serious symptoms or death in pet birds due to their small body size.
If metal utensils are used with Teflon coated cookware, small pieces of Teflon can break off and get into the food. This is considered non-toxic. When swallowed, these pieces will travel through the intestines and come out in the stool intact without causing harm to the body.
If you have been exposed to fumes from an overheated Teflon coated pan or have questions about the toxicity of Teflon, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.