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Teflon Linked to Birth Defects

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The Silent Killer

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A List of Some Items with Teflon

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Environmental Working Group

TEFLON FACTS

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Dupont has on it's own website a caution for bird owners: http://www.teflon.com/Teflon/downloads/pdf/teflon_faq.pdf

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In a newsletter the FDA warns bird owners to "Beware of environmental hazards, such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, overheated non-stick coatings (eg. Teflon)..." 

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Teflon and other non-stick coatings can produce fumes that kill birds.  Here is a website with extensive information from scientists, veterinarians, and owners who have lost their pet birds to ptfe fumes.  This website is full of lots of links that discuss the effects of teflon on you bird. http://www.ewg.org/reports/toxicteflon/diaries_sites.php 

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EPA, DuPont in Settlement over Chemical:  http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2005/11/29/financial/f085541S52.DTL&type=business 

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Washington Post.  EPA Settlement:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/29/AR2005112901382.html 

Why Airborne Stuff Will Kill Your Birds by Laurie E. Baker

This article is given out for free by Laurie E Baker (of Feathered Follies) and is reprinted here for public benefit.
 
In order to understand why airborne toxins affect your birds so much more than humans or other vertebrates you need to understand the way birds breathe. This article will cover the mechanics of the avian respiratory system, the effects of airborne pollutants and some of the biggest hidden dangers to birds.

The avian respiratory system is not like any other vertebrate and only occupies a little over 2% of a bird's body volume. Unlike mammals, they have no diaphragm to power breathing; instead they rely on muscles to inhale & exhale. So if you pit pressure on the body of any bird they will panic because their breathing has been impeded. When we inhale, oxygen moves into the lungs and we exhale carbon dioxide. There is a time during this cycle that we actually have no fresh oxygen. Birds have a constant supply of oxygen because of a complex respiratory system.

The main function of their respiratory system is the same as ours: to take in oxygen and move out carbon dioxide. The efficiency of this system is crucial due to the high demands of maintaining flight. To meet this demand, birds have developed a complex system that involves the lungs and auxiliary air sacs, which are a complex anatomic feature not seen in any other members of the animal kingdom. Almost every part of a bird's body is in direct communication with the respiratory system. They even have pneumatic bones, which are bones that are hollow & hold air.

Birds have a constant supply of oxygen which moderates the body's temperature & allows activities. When the bird inhales, the air in the lungs actually moves out & when it exhales the air moves into the lungs. yes, this is just the opposite of us. The reason is because of a system of thin walled balloons that are located in 9 places in the body called air sacs.

It takes 2 cycles of inhaling & exhaling to complete air movement in birds. The air sacs don't exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. This is only done in the lungs. On the next cycle, the air in the lungs moves to another air sac when inhaling and moves up and out the trachea on the second exhale. This is a very basic explanation of a bird's breathing, but you can see how taking in something that could harm the body makes such a drastic reaction.

When a toxin is introduced to a bird's respiratory system it is very quickly dispersed throughout the body. As stated earlier, air or a toxin even penetrates bone directly and is then followed by what has been transferred to the blood. The bird doesn't even stand a chance because of the very system that allows them constant oxygen to maintain the high energy demands of their bodies.

There are many, many fumes that can either make a bird very ill or kill them. Some of these are nail polish remover, wet paint, gasoline, ammonia cleaners that are sprayed onto surfaces, improperly diluted Clorox, melted plastic, carbon monoxide, insecticides and pesticides, cigarette and marijuana smoke, natural gas, hair dyes, and many many more. I usually figure that if I can smell something, then the bird can smell it 10x more than I do.

Probably the most deadly to us and the birds are non-stick coatings or PTFEs. The first of these was produced by DuPont more than 50 years ago and today essentially the same product is called by many names and used on many, many products. DuPont has claimed for years that their coatings do not emit hazardous chemicals with normal use, but EPA scientists have now proven the perfluorooctanic acid, or PFOA, is absorbed by humans and takes many years to clear the body without misuse of coated products. Additionally, PFOA doesn't break down in the environment and causes diseases in animals such as cancer, liver damage, and birth defects. Scientists are currently testing other PFOA chemicals (such as telomers) to determine the extent of PFOA produced when the chemical breaks down. An example of products using telomers is the stain repellent coatings that are used for carpeting and clothing. It has not been proven that the levels of PFOA that humans absorb is dangerous, but at the same time, there is a condition in humans called "polymer fume fever" caused by these fumes.

DuPont claims that their coatings don't break down with normal use, but deaths in birds prove this incorrect. Avian veterinarians have known for decades that non-stick cookware produces fumes highly toxic to birds. One veterinarian documented 296 deaths over a year caused by these toxic fumes.

I am going to cite some real facts as a closing to this article. Feathered Follies has always known non-stick surfaces were dangerous and I hope that anyone who reads this will consider the use of non-stick products and the health of themselves and their birds.

Real Examples:

A non-stick cookie pan being used to make plastic Christmas ornaments was heated in the oven. The family lost 20+ parakeets, including chicks.

55 birds died when water was burned off a hot pan.

A drip pan was preheated in preparation of Thanksgiving dinner; 14 birds died within 15 minutes.

Yellow-Nape Amazon died after his owner cooked eggs on the stove for them to share.

Grill plate used at normal temperatures on a gas stove killed two Moluccan Cockatoos and a Lovebird.

Self-cleaning cycle was used on new Amana oven and one Macaw died.

Heat bulbs coated with Teflon installed in a zoo killed al the birds they were supposed to warm.

Moluccan Cockatoo died after a carpet repair with glue and Teflon coated iron.

Mexican Redhead Amazon killed by Stain safe coating on a new couch.

Skillet and electric space heater coated with PTFE killed a Ringneck Parakeet, Amazon, and Blue & Gold Macaw.

 

THE SILENT KILLER

By Joanie Doss

http://theaviary.com/teflon.shtml 

It makes no sound and has no smell. Polytetraflouethylene (Teflon fumes) is deadly for your birds. A bird's size and lung capacity make him more sensitive to the toxins in our environment. It was for this reason that coal miners would take a canary down into the mines with them. If the bird became sick or died, they knew it was dangerous for them to be in that mine.

Polytetraflouethylene is known by the brand name Teflon and most bird owners realize that using products that have this coating cannot safely be used around birds. However, there are many other brand names that are also polytetraflouethylene. Some of these are: Silverstone, Fluron, Supra, Excalibur, Greblon, Xylon, Duracote, Resistal, Autograph and T-Fal are just a few. These coatings are used primarily to keep things from sticking.

The San Antonio Zoo in Texas lost 21 birds in an outdoor aviary awhile back. Their death was caused when the birds gathered by lights that the zoo had installed so that the birds could warm themselves in an outdoor aviary. The bulbs had been coated with Polytetraflouethylene. Phillips standard red heating lamps have a coating of Teflon. The FDA now requires that bulbs be given a Teflon coating as a shatter shield when used around food. If you are planning to use a light to help warm a brooder or keep a sick bird warm, look it over carefully and read the box to see if Teflon has been used. If it does not have a box or does not say it has a special coating, check the bulb itself. The Teflon coated ones have a bubbly or cloudy surface. They may use one of the other brand names for Polytetraflouethylene so remember that just because it doesn't say Teflon it doesn't mean that it is safe to use around birds.

PTFE was discovered in 1941. Basically this is a plastic. Teflon is the trademark for a tetrafluoroeghylene resin with a high resistance to heat and corrosive chemicals. It was originally used in wire insulation, cable spacers, gaskets and in other applications in the chemical industry. It then became popular as a non-stick coating for cook ware.

In 1951 the first case of human suffering from tetrafluoroethylene problems was reported. It produces flu like symptoms in humans. The tetrafluoroethylene lingers long after the product has been removed. It can remain in carpeting and draperies for some time.

Birds die an extremely painful and agonizing death when exposed to these fumes. This product may not kill all the birds at the same time. The toxins travel on air currants. The currant can by-pass one bird and come in contact with another. The fumes swirl on these air currants similar to the way that smoke would. The bird does not have to be in the room where the fumes originate as they can be carried into various parts of the house on these air currants. Smaller birds can take less of the fumes than a larger bird, but even a small amount of exposure can kill a large bird.

When the report first circulated about Teflon causing bird deaths, it was thought that very high heat was needed to release the deadly fumes. Now there are reports that temperatures as low as 285 degrees can cause death to birds.

Teflon starts emitting fumes from the start of heating. It does not have to be a high temperature or for an extended length of time to cause death to your bird. Small birds breathing these fumes for only a few seconds took as long as 24 hours to die.

Many people think that Teflon is only dangerous if the pan burns. This danger lurks in other products besides cookware. These do not have to operate at a high temperature to cause damage to your birds. I have listed some products that use polytetraflouethylene. Not all of these use this coating nor are these the only places that it is used. Carefully read all products that you buy before you use them around your bird. If in doubt, call up the manufacturer and asked what he has used in the product.

Some Products That Use Polytetraflouethylene

bulletBaseboard Heaters
bulletBread Makers
bulletBroiler Pans
bulletBurners on Stove Tops
bulletCoffee Makers
bulletCorkscrews
bulletCrock Pots
bulletDeep Fryers
bulletDrip Pans for Burners
bulletElectric Skillets
bulletGriddles
bulletHeat lamps
bulletHot Air Popcorn Poppers
bulletIroning board covers
bulletLollipop Moulds
 
bulletMany cooking utensils
bulletNever-Stick-Stainless Steel
bulletNon-stick rolling pins
bulletNon-stick gingerbread moulds
bulletOven liners
bulletPizza pans
bulletPortable heaters
bulletRoasters
bulletSteam Cleaning Equip.
bulletSole plates on irons
bulletStockpots
bulletTortilla presses
bulletWoks
bulletWaffle makers
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1995 Joanie Doss. This article originally appeared in The Alaska Bird Club Newsletter.  Please do not reprint this article in any form without the written consent of Joanie Doss.

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TeflonTM Linked to Birth Defects & Illness

By Michael Day, Health Correspondent
(Filed: 08/08/2004)

The coating on non-stick pans used in millions of kitchens throughout the world has been linked to birth defects in humans and to the deaths of pets.

Chemical firms face claims that per fluorinated organic chemicals, such as per fluoro-octanoic acid (PFOA), which is in Teflon - first used in 1945 - and oil- and water-resistant coatings, are a health threat.

Du Pont, which makes Teflon, has to answer accusations in the United States this week that it had evidence about dangers posed by PFOA but deliberately and illegally kept it secret. The US Environmental Protection Agency says that Du Pont concealed its own 1981 research showing that its pregnant workers were passing the chemical to their unborn children.

In addition, in 1991, it failed to report evidence that the chemical had contaminated the water supply to 12,000 people.

Du Pont has four days left to contest the charges - and a potential fine of $300 million (160 million).

Bucky Bailey is a member of one of eight families living near the Du Pont factory in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who are suing the company over the effects of PFOA.

His mother, Sue Bailey, was a factory worker exposed to PFOA while pregnant. Mr Bailey was born with only one nostril and other facial defects for which he has had 30 operations.

He has recently married, but does not intend to have children in case they inherit his condition. He is now determined to hold Du Pont to account.

"I want them to admit that they made a mistake, to say they messed up and that they're going to do everything they can to help," Mr Bailey said.

Dr Tim Kropp, the senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, an organisation in Washington DC, said: "The Environmental Protection Agency should force Du Pont to pay a punishing fine such that it sends out a signal to all chemical manufacturers that it is not profitable to withhold critical information.

"The Teflon chemical PFOA, like other fluoro-chemicals, is in people everywhere. It never breaks down in the environment and it's toxic at or near levels found in humans."

Clifton Webb, Du Pont's director of public affairs, denied that his company had acted incorrectly.

"We believe that we acted completely within the law and we have the facts that will substantiate our position," he said. Mr Webb added that despite evidence of exposure in the womb, and of water contamination, there was no evidence that actual harm resulted from PFOA exposure and so the company was not legally bound to release its findings.

"We stuck to the letter of the law," he said. "We have had 50 years of experience with PFOA and none of that experience suggests harmful effects resulting from exposure."

A separate health concern over Teflon is that when non-stick pans are overheated they release fumes that cause "Teflon flu". Mr Webb said that the condition, which causes aches and chills, was "temporary and soon passes".

Pet birds, however, are easily killed by the fumes. Retief Ehlers, a veterinary surgeon in London with a special interest in exotic birds, said: "Small birds such as budgies, finches and cockatiels are particularly at risk."

Mr Webb said that the kitchen was "not a place to have birds because they have very sensitive respiratory systems". He also said that the temperatures required to overheat Teflon pans would burn food, the fumes from which could also harm pet birds and humans.

Karine Pellaumail, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, said: "There are real concerns about the safety of these chemicals and, like all substances that persist in the human body and the environment, we would like to see them all phased out."

Campaigners anticipate resistance to any attempt to ban per fluorinated polymers. Their unusual combination of  properties - water and oil resistance and near-imperviousness to heat - have resulted in their use in many consumer products and in a host of industrial settings.

In Britain, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) plans to restrict their use.

Alun Michael, an environment minister, said that the chemicals represented "a real and significant risk to the population and environment in the UK". He has indicated that Britain will act unilaterally in Europe by banning one chemical of the class, per fluorooctane sulphonate, in line with the US.

The chemical company 3M withdrew all of its Scotch guard products containing the chemical in 2000 after pressure from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

A spokesman for Defra said that there were also concerns about the PFOA used in Teflon and that it would study the results of a US safety review.

One authority on per fluorinated polymers, Dr Jonathan Martin of Toronto University, said he considered the PFOA in Teflon to be potentially as harmful as the banned per fluorooctane sulphonate.

"It's not true that risks are less. PFOA has been recognised as a rat carcinogen for decades," he said.

Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004

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