Delicate creatures alert us to our environmental health.
Respiratory systems of birds are sensitive enough that legends describe miners using canaries to test the air quality as miners dropped deeper and deeper into the earth.
Fortunately and unfortunately, family pet birds now sound alert to toxic fumes from cooking pans coated with Teflon or polytetraflouethylene (PTFE) (plastic non-stick surface). Non-stick pans emit toxic fumes when used for the first time in the oven or even allowing the pan to overheat. According to Dupont Teflon safety tips:
1. While cooking, remove your pet birds from the kitchen.
2. Never leave your cooking pans unattended.
3. Do not preheat your pans on high heat.
4. Open a window and/or turn on your exhaust fan.
As holiday chefs enter the kitchen this season, be cautious in using any pan with the plastic coating and remove your pet birds from the kitchen when you are cooking. The toxic fumes emitted may kill pet birds and cause unknown harm to family members who are close by inhaling the fumes.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, D.C.