The Risks of Teflon for Pet Birds

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    EWG (Environmental Working Group) finds heated Teflon pans can turn toxic faster than DuPont claims — EWG tests of coated pans found that in two to five minutes on a typical household stove, heated pans reach temperatures that produce toxins that even DuPont acknowledges kill hundreds of pet birds each year and cause “flu-like polymer fever in humans.”

    Bird owners should realize that using products with Teflon coating should not be used around birds. Other brand names with polytetraflouethylene non-stick coating are Silverstone, Fluron, Supra, Excalibur, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph and T-Fal. Some time ago, the San Antonio Zoo in Texas lost 21 birds in an outdoor aviary.

    Their death was attributed to recently installed lights in an outdoor aviary. The bulbs had been coated with Polytetraflouethylene (PTFE). PTFE can also be found on cooking and baking utensils, electric cookers, portable heaters, irons with nonstick plates, self-cleaning ovens, some hair dryers and curling irons – to name a few. Ask the manufacturer if uncertain.

    Self-cleaning ovens: Do not run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around. Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air that kill birds rather quickly.

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      Slow cookers that has a metal interior often have a non-stick (Teflon) coating. Better choices are stockpots made of ceramic, stainless steel, or other safe metal.

      Aluminum Foil with Non-stick Coating: A new type of Aluminum Foil made by Renolds Wrap (also known as “quick release style”) has caused the death of some parrots. Pet owners, who may very well be aware of the dangers that cooking with non-stick pans can pose, are oblivious to the fact that any items with non-stick coating pose the same dangers. One person who did some baking with such nonstick-coated aluminum foil lost her pet birds shortly afterwards because of toxic off-gassing.

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        Stain-resistant Coating: PTFE coating can also be found on clothing and material (with “stain-resistant coating”). Carpet cleaning companies will try to sell you on “stain protection” coating — also PTFE!

        Shatter Resistant or Safety-coated Light Bulbs are a potential source for toxic fumes that can be dangerous to birds. These bulbs have or may have a coating made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which makes them shatter resistant. A veterinarian researched the death of a customer’s birds and found out that the coating heated up during the use of the bulb, and in the enclosed coop produced high enough concentrations of toxic fumes to kill the chickens.


        DuPont Fined for Teflon Cover-Up : The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will fine Teflon maker DuPont $16.5 million for two decades’ worth of covering up studies that showed it was polluting drinking water and newborn babies with an indestructible chemical. It was EWG’s petition that sparked EPA’s lawsuit against DuPont. The fine is the largest administrative fine the EPA has ever levied under a weak toxic chemical law. However, the $16.5 million fine is less than half of one percent of DuPont’s profits from Teflon from this time period, and a fraction of the $313 million the agency could have imposed. Yet another reason to strengthen our toxic chemical laws, which EWG is launching a campaign to do. Ref: http://www.ewg.org/research/poisoned-legacy

        Safer Alternatives:

        • GreenPan cookware utilizes a “100% PTFE-free non-stick technology called Thermalon, a surfacing that not only allows for flawless oil-free cooking, but is also completely free from the toxins that other non-stick cookware can release into your food and your home.”Cuisinart GreenGourmet Ceramic type pans Stainless Steel Scanpan : Available over the Internet or in better kitchen stores. Some questions were raised if this cookware was indeed ” PTFE-free.” Indeed, they do use Greblon for their cookware – a non-stock coating that can pose a danger to birds. A communication with them on this topic yielded the following response:
          • ” Scanpan is free of PFOA, but does use small quantities of PTFE based substance … however … the fumes from cooking margarine are as toxic or more toxic than a melting frypan. Only a pan that is totally melting due to being left on the range at 600 to 800 degrees without food to pass the heat to will cause the fumes that you are concerned with.”

        Pet owners share their experiences with Teflon Poisoning :

        T-Fal Cooking Pot:

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          One pet owner reports as follows (from e-mail received on 2/26/2009):

          YESTERDAY, 2-25-09, I WAS BOILING WATER IN A SMALL T-FAL POT AND I LEFT THE KITCHEN AND WENT TO THE GARAGE, WHEN I CAME BACK IN THE HOUSE I FORGOT THE WATER WAS BOILING.

          I WAS IN ANOTHER ROOM WHEN I SMELLED A STRONG ODOR AND WONDERED WHAT IT WAS. I TRACED IT TO THE KITCHEN AND THE WATER BOILED DRY AND THE FIRE WAS UNDER AN EMPTY PAN NOW.

          RIGHT AWAY I GOT A FAN AND CRACKED THE DOOR TO LET OUT THE FUMES.I NEVER THOUGHT TO MOVE THE BIRD TO A DIFFERENT ROOM AWAY FROM THIS MESS.

          ABOUT A HALF HOUR LATER I WENT TO PET HIM AND THOUGHT HE WAS A LITTLE “SLUGGISH”. HE DID NOT ACT HIMSELF. HE FELL TO THE BOTTOM OF THE CAGE AND I PICKED HIM UP AND HELD HIM AS HE STRUGGLED TO BREATHE AND THEN DIED IN MY HAND.

          I AM FEELING QUITE BAD RIGHT NOW BUT I HOPE THIS EXPERIENCE WILL HELP SOMEONE ELSE TO BE AWARE AND MORE RESPONSIBLE THAN I WAS. THE BIRD WAS A BLUE CROWN CONURE AND PART OF THE FAMILY.”

          Teflon Poisoning from an Unlikely Source (Passed on via Forum):

          A forum member shared the following experience:

          “I know about teflon products and do not purchase them. I do not clean my oven with anything but a plastic scraper and hot hot water.

          Saturday Jan 10, 2009 – two days ago -, I put an oven liner that claimed it was made from silicone and was completely safe for animals. I followed the directions, started the oven, popped in a pizza.

          Within five minutes of taking the pizza out, my Parrotlet fell to the bottom of the cage and died in my hand. I had no clue what happened to him, I tried to clear his little air way, I thought maybe he choked on something. No luck bringing him back. I have only had him for 5.5 months, but you sure can get attached quickly.

          I also have two female caiques, Tango and Daisy. These birds are my children just as for many of you. I wanted to show the girls that little Tucker had passed, so they wouldn’t call for him. I took out Tango (blk.head) showed her that Tucker was gone, she seemed to understand. When I went to take Daisy (wht.belly) (my princess) I have had her for 3 years, when I looked at her she was sitting low on her heated perch, almost squatting. I had her step up, but she had a hard time doing so. Once I had her I could tell something was very wrong, she was wobbly and out of it.

          It hit me like a ton of bricks!!!! I had read about this……..That darn oven must have contained some type of teflon or chemical. My roommate and I now in a total panic, rushed the girls outside.

          Daisy was fading fast……..I was crying and begging her to stay awake. My neighbors came out to help, they called the local avian vet and had to leave a message. The internet said oxygen……Where am I going to get oxygen at 6pm on a Saturday night??? I was a mess!!! I called the local Fire Dept. I asked them to please, please bring oxygen to save my baby. I must have sounded like a lunatic or something. They came with in fifteen minutes, we put the mask over Daisy’s mouth and her eyes became more alert. I was hopeful. He suggested putting her in a small box and letting the oxygen tube go directly into the box. We got a small box, she seemed to be standing now……..Very hopeful now!

          The EMT called the University of Tennessee avian vet. The avian vet said it sounds like telfon exposure. He told the EMT the outcome was not good, but the EMT did not tell us that right away, he could see what a mess we already were. The vet said to take the oxygen off for ten minutes and if she stayed taller that we could bring her to the hospital, but if she faded that meant she had already suffered a lethal dose and there would be nothing he could do for her. Daisy Mae died at 10:15pm, I told her it was bed time and she went to sleep. Tango the survivor was trying to feed Daisy the last hour of her life. It broke my heart.”

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