Teflon Can be Toxic to Birds, How About Humans?

In a report just published by the Environmental Working Group entitled "Canaries in the Kitchen – "Teflon Toxicosis" is Deadly to Pet Birds, Are We at Risk?", they found that Teflon, if heated to sufficiently high temperatures, will break down. The break down of Teflon producing toxic particles that have been linked to the deaths of hundreds and potentially thousands of pet birds.

Recently conducted tests indicate that the temperature at which the Teflon will break down can be reached within minutes on a conventional electric stove top. After years of having claimed that Teflon is safe, DuPont, the manufacturers of Teflon non-stick cooking surfaces admit that it does emit toxic particles. However, significant breakdown does not occur until 340°C, which they claim is well above normal cooking temperatures.

Teflon Toxicosis is the phenomenon in birds that leads to death after being exposed to the fumes emitted by decomposing Teflon. Polymer Fume Fever is the similar instance in humans. However, no long term studies have been carried out relating to the effects of Teflon decomposition products on humans.

Following the studies carried out by the Environmental Working Group, they have petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to require that non-stick cookware and similar ovenware etc should carry labels warning of the risks to pet birds. They have also indicated that stainless steel and cast iron cookware offer safe alternatives as neither produce any off gases.

This report comes shortly after the Environmental Protection Agency launched an investigation into the potential health risks of a chemical known as C8 or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (April 14). This chemical is also used in the manufacture of Teflon.

For more information on Teflon, click here.

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