# Is teflon a poison if ingested?

Nowadays, a lot of frying pans are made with a non-stick coating. That's usually teflon, or chemically speaking polytetrafluorethylene - $\ce{(C2F4)}_n$. Can you be poisoned if some of that teflon gets in your meal by scraping the pan or in any other way? And if so, what happens (chemically speaking) in your body after ingestion?

• Teflon is very inert and small pieces in the body will not be absorbed, so no. The only way to suffer from it is to overheat the pan enough to thermolyse the teflon back to the monomer, which is harmful (though less so to people than birds). – matt_black Apr 4 '18 at 18:22
• @matt_black Thanks, your comment was useful. Would you mind forming it into na answer? – Adinex Apr 4 '18 at 18:39

I hope I am not breaking any rules of this forum by directly quoting, but here you go:

"The cold polymer is harmless on ingestion, in contact with the skin, or implanted in living tissues. When heated above 250° C. it begins slowly to give rise to small amounts of decomposition products, some of which are toxic. The accidental inhalation of fumes from the overheated polymer by workmen produces an influenza-like illness which has been described elsewhere. The illness follows a latent interval of a few hours and resolves within a day or two with no subsequent illeffects. This may happen, for example, when the polymer is heated to comparatively high temperatures (350-400 C.) in an oven, an extruder, or some other equipment used to fabricate it, but it is easily prevented by the intelligent use of exhaust ventilation."

In: Harris, Kenwin. “Toxicity of Polytetrafluoroethylene.” British Medical Journal 1.5285 (1962): 1146.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1958415/pdf/brmedj02864-0082a.pdf

• Well we can conclude not to overheat it or we can poison ourselves! – Adinex Apr 4 '18 at 19:50