do non stick pans kill birds

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a common finding in households due to its use as a non-stick coating on cookware. Teflon is the most well-known brand name of PTFE based coatings. Other sources of PTFE include drip pans, waffle irons, clothing irons, ironing board covers, heating elements, and heat lamps. When PTFE is heated to over 280? (536?), it releases toxic particles and acidic gases which are toxic when inhaled. These gases are colorless and odorless, so owners are often unaware their bird has been exposed.

Most cases of PTFE poisoning occur when non-stick cookware is over-heated or burned, such as a non-stick pot boiling dry on the stovetop. However, cases of poisoning have been reported from the use of PTFE containing products even at recommended temperatures.

Few birds are saved

The mortality rate among birds is very high once Teflon toxicosis symptoms become apparent. According to Dr. At the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, assistant professor of avian and exotic medicine Ken Welle said, “We have saved birds by administering immediate application of steroids, but most never make it as far as our office” [1].


[1] Dale, Steve. 1995. “Deadly fumes: Pet birds have no place in the kitchen, even though people may not be in danger.” ” Chicago Tribune. March 26, 1995.

From the vet’s mouth: bird death cases

14 pet birds were killed. Teflon-coated stovetop burner drip pans were the cause of death.

While cooking Thanksgiving dinner, a woman in the Chicago area lost fourteen birds in fifteen minutes after setting the four burners on her electric stove to preheat. After questioning the bird owner extensively and discovering lung damage (necrotizing pneumonitis) during a post-mortem examination, a local avian veterinarian concluded that the deaths were caused by fumes from recently installed Teflon-coated drip pans two weeks earlier [7][8]. PTFE coatings on drip pans, which DuPont studies indicate can approach 1000 degF during regular use, are still in use today despite neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission having prohibited their use. [17,18].

107 chicks were killed. The cause of death was a Teflon cookie sheet placed over the broiler.

Chicago-area bird specialist Dr. According to a case reported by Peter Sakas, 107 chicks perished when their owner placed a Teflon cookie sheet underneath a broiler to collect drips. [18].

All birds in a breeding operation were killed; the cause of death was an overheated Teflon pan.

Dr. The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s Robert Eckroade, director of the poultry pathology laboratory at the New Bolton Center, described a case he managed in which a Teflon pan in a house overheated, killing every bird in two rooms of a breeding operation [17].

Killed: $2,000 pet birdImplicated in death: Self-cleaning oven

Bird specialist Dr. A case overseen by Richard Nye of Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital in Westchester’s west suburbs involved a $2,000 bird that perished after its owner used the self-cleaning feature on a home oven. [17].

Killed: two pet birdsImplicated in death: non-stick pizza pan

Dr. A local woman lost a cockatiel and another bird (species unknown) while heating pizza on a nonstick pan, according to a story told by veterinarian and bird expert Peter Sakas of the Chicago area [17].

14 pet birds were killed. The cause of death was a Teflon cookie sheet used to bake bread.

Dr. A case involving 14 birds that died within 30 minutes of their owner cooking bread on a Teflon cookie sheet and barely burning the bottom of the bread was looked into by Sam Vaughn, an expert in avian veterinary care in Louisville, Kentucky. The cookie sheets had been used before without incident. Dr. Lung lesions, a defining feature of PTFE toxicosis, were confirmed by Vaughn’s autopsy of two of the 14 birds [19].

Killed: Wild birdsImplicated in death:Fumes from cookware coating facility

The City of Scarborough Department of Public Health had received a report in August 1996 from the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC), an Ontario collaboration of four university veterinarian colleges. The report claimed that an unusually high number of wild bird deaths had occurred in an area near a cookware coating facility. The CCWHC gathered mourning doves, starlings, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and dead house sparrows between July and October. The dead birds showed a consistent pattern of lung congestion, edema, and sporadic bleeding, which was consistent with inhaling PTFE fumes and causing death. The Department of Public Health negotiated an agreement for emission reductions after attributing the bird deaths to the factory’s fumes [16].

80–100 wild birds were killed. The cause of death was the fumes from the non-stick manufacturing facility.

In 1997, researchers in England discovered 80–100 dead wild birds within four hours, about 700 feet from a western English industrial plant that painted sheet metal with PTFE-containing nonstick paint. Oven temperatures were increased to 880 degrees Fahrenheit (470 degrees Celsius) on the afternoon of the bird deaths due to issues at the plant that improved the coating of the sheet metal with the paint containing PTFE. The direction of the wind suggested that fumes from the plant had traveled to the location of the dead birds. “The majority of the birds were discovered dead, but some were alive, gasping for air, and died soon after,” the writers write [15].

[1] Kreger Theresa 2003. “Teflon deaths. ” Email correspondence to EWG. April 2003.

[2] Birdhotline 2003. “Warnings to keep your bird safe. ” Accessed via the Internet at http:/www. birdhotline. com/comment. htm. May 2003.

[3] Shively Carol. 2003. “PTFE fumes kill familys pet birds!” Accessed online at www. quakerville. com/qic/ezine/96Issue5/qteflon. htm. April 2003.

[4] Talking Green Parrot Aviary. 2003. Information accessed online at www. tgpa. com. April 7 2003.

[5] Sehnal, D. 2003. Personal correspondence via email with Environmental Working Group. April and May 2003.

[6] Grahme 2003. “Teflon-related bird information. ” Email correspondence to Environmental Working Group. April 24 2003.

[7] Stewart Bob. 2002. Personal communication with Dr. Jennifer Klein, Environmental Working Group. May 9, 2002.

[8] Stewart Bob. 2002. Personal email communication with Anne Morgan, Environmental Working Group. [date].

[9] Anonymous 2003. Email correspondence to Environmental Working Group. April 2003.

[10] Anonymous 2003. Email correspondence to Environmental Working Group. April 2003.

[11] Hopkins, Steve 2001. “Bird deaths linked to Teflon coating. ” Waikato Times. Hamilton, New Zealand. Independent Publishers Ltd. July 11, 2001. Copyright 2001 Independent Publishers Ltd.

[12] Blandford, TB. , Seamon, PJ. , Hughes, R. , Pattison, M and Wilderspin, MP. 1975. An instance of polymer fume fever and polytetrafluoroethylene poisoning in cockatiels Vet Rec 96(8): 175-8.

[13] Boucher M, Ehmler TJ, Bermudez AJ. 2000. Polytetrafluoroethylene gas intoxication in broiler chickens. Avian Dis 2000 Apr-Jun;44(2):449-53.

[14] Zanen AL, Rietveld AP. 1993. Inhalation trauma due to overheating in a microwave oven. Thorax 48:300-2.

[15] Pennycott TW, Middleton JD. 1997. Suspected PTFE toxicity in wild birds. Vet Rec 141:255.

[16] Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC). 1997. “Suspected Teflon toxicosis in songbirds. ” CCWHC Newsletter. Volume 4, Number 3, Summer 1997. Accessed online May 2003 at http://www. fas. org/ahead/news/ccwhc/summer97. htm#ont.

[17] Daniels, Mary. 1986. Chicago Tribune, “Stove fumes kill caged birds; overheating coated pans can bring quick death.” March 9, 1986.

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

[19] Vaughn, Sam. 1994. “What is a safe toy?” NCS Magazine. The National Cockatiel Society (NCS). Accessed online May 2002 at http://www. cockatiels. org/articles/behaviour/safetoys. html.

What are the signs of PTFE poisoning?

Agitation, fast or labored breathing, wheezing, weakness, incoordination, coma, and seizures are some of the symptoms of poisoning. Unfortunately, abrupt death frequently happens before or soon after symptoms appear. When first stimulated, birds may appear apathetic or sluggish and respond slowly. They may also be observed swaying as they attempt to remain upright on their perch.


At what temperature does Teflon become toxic to birds?

When PTFE is heated to over 280? (536?), it releases toxic particles and acidic gases which are toxic when inhaled. These gases are colorless and odorless, so owners are often unaware their bird has been exposed.

What is the best cookware to use around birds?

A few manufacturers, like Corning Revere, print warnings in product instructions against using nonstick cookware around pet birds, but you must read the fine print to find it. Instead of nonstick cookware, try: Stainless steel. Copper-clad stainless steel.

What is a bird friendly frying pan?

Nonstick cookware such as Teflon can be fatal to birds if overheated. Here are some bird safe options including stainless steel, ceramic, and cast iron.

Are Calphalon pans safe for birds?

However, NEVER use any Teflon coated pan or utensil around parrots. It vaporizes microscopic Teflon into the air if overheated to about 550 degrees F. You parrots will die within a few minutes. Throw the Teflon coated pans and utensils in the trash to make sure no one uses them around your birds by accident.