To Kill a Cockatiel

A few years ago, I started boiling some water in a non-stick coated pot, forgot about it and left the house. I returned a few hours later to find the water had evaporated and the pot was steaming on the stove. In the next room, I found my pet cockatiel, Newton, dead. Heartbroken and shocked, I later learned that some non-stick coatings can release fumes that are deadly to birds, especially if the pan is overheated. Wikipedia states the chemical polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) , used in some non-stick coatings, can cause flu-like symptoms in humans and can be lethal to birds.

Now known as “the girl who’s cooking literally kills,” I pretty much avoid the stovetop and I hadn’t thought much about this until recently. I saw an episode of Stuff Happens with a blip on the possible dangers of non-stick coatings and decided to look into this since I still have those old pots and pans in the cabinet. According to the EPA, perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA (chemical used in the manufacturing of some non-stick coatings) is a “likely carcinogen.” Several studies have shown that up to 95% of Americans have PFOAs in their bloodstream among other PFC chemicals, though it’s not clear how it got there. The EPA signed agreements with several non-stick chemical manufacturing companies to reduce PFOAs by 95% by 2010 with a complete phase-out by 2015. I decided it’s time for new cookware.

Avoiding Perfluorochemicals

  • Avoid overheating pans with non-stick coatings, and don’t use pans if the coating is scratched
  • Choose Cast Iron, Stainless Steel or Ceramic Cookware Instead
  • Check labels on cosmetics and personal care products as some may contain these or other related perfluorochemicals (PFCs)
  • PFCs may also be found in food packaging and stain resistant coatings, so check the labels!
  • Bird owners or anyone interested in reading more about this topic, check out Canaries in the Kitchen.

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