WARNING: Non-Stick Cookware Releases Fumes That Can Kill Pet Birds

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WARNING: Non-Stick Cookware Releases Fumes That Can Kill Pet BirdsPhoto – Pixabay (PD)

Ask any avian veterinarian and they’ll tell you – don’t use Teflon-coated and other similar non-stick cookware if you have a pet bird in the house. The coating on these particular cookwares can produce fumes which are highly toxic to birds. This phenomenon is known as “Teflon toxicosis” and has been responsible for the death of hundreds of birds each year. [1][2]

In one year alone, one veterinarian from Chicago documented approximately 296 bird deaths. The deaths were due to 105 different cases involving non-stick cookware. Apparently, Teflon can kill birds even under ordinary cooking circumstances. At normal cooking temperatures, the fumes produced from cooking with Teflon-coated and non-stick cookware can be lethal to birds. [3]

It doesn’t seem like this can be doing us much good either!

PTFE And PFOA Fumes

PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene and is more commonly known by the brand name Teflon. Exposure to PTFE’s fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and death in birds due to their very sensitive respiratory systems.

In the past, it was believed that Teflon could only be dangerous at high temperatures. This claim has since been proven false since Teflon can off-gas at lower temperatures. Cooking with a Teflon-coated pan at low to moderate heat could already be fatal to birds. [3]

PFOA stands for perfluorooctanoic acid, and it is a petroleum based product. It is often used to bond the non-stick coating to non-stick pans. It is believed to be a carcinogenic chemical. The DuPont company, one of the leading manufacturers of Teflon, was fined a whopping $10.25 million penalty by the EPA for withholding information about PFOA’s toxicity. [3]

Based on the studies, the fumes from heating Teflon-coated and other non-stick pans are fatal to birds. How will this affect humans? While there have been no studies documenting its harmful effects, it is likely that the fumes could cause more than flu-like symptoms in the long run. The bottom line is that if it’s fatal to birds, it is likely to be harmful to humans as well.

Alternatives:

Essentially, “anything but”. You can use stainless steel; although your eggs might stick – though I think that better than exposing yourself to toxins. Aluminum pans are also considered a no-no these days due to the link to Alzheimers.

Green cookware is cookware that is safe for the environment and your home. Also know as “eco-friendly” cookware, these alternative metal pans are hard anodized aluminum pans which have undergone an electrochemical process. The process has made these cookwares very slick and food is less likely to stick to them as a result. The surface of these cookwares is highly durable, even better than stainless steel. [4]

Apart from metal, there are also ceramic and silicone based “greenware.” Silicone is a synthetic rubber made out of bonded silicon, a natural elemental found in the earth’s crust, and oxygen. [5] It is processed into a coating that is similar to glass.

Many experts claim that this is safe; however, some have also claimed that it could melt at high enough temperatures. [4] More testing and studies need to be conducted with the use of food-grade silicone and cooking.

Ceramic coating is the basis for Thermolon mineral coatings. Thermolon is a ceramic non-stick layer made of sand. There aren’t enough studies about its safety at the moment. However, one manufacturer of silicone cookware has said that their products have passed California Prop 65. [6] They guarantee that their ceramic cookware and its ceramic glaze coating do not contain metals or lead and cadmium.

Green cookware is still evolving. While it isn’t 100% safe due to the need for further testing and studies, it’s a step towards more reliable cookware. When purchasing non-stick cookware, make sure to buy one that’s PTFE and PFOA free. Birds should not have to die for our poor choices in cookware.

References:

[1] Dale, Steve. 1995. “Fatal fumes; while people may not be in danger, the kitchen is no place for pet birds.” Chicago Tribune. March 26, 1995.

[2] Daniels, Mary. 1987. “Health debate; non-stick drip pans catch heat.” Chicago Tribune. March 29 1987.

[3] http://www.ewg.org/research/canaries-kitchen/teflon-kills-birds

[4] http://www.birdtricks.com/blog/non-stick-cookware-kills-another-parrot/

[5] http://www.foodreference.com/html/silicone-cookware-safety-310.html

[6] https://wellnessmama.com/13203/glazed-ceramic-pans-safe/

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