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Wild Bird Deaths

Canaries in the Kitchen: Wild Bird Deaths

May 15, 2003

Bird Death Diary headerBird Death Diary header

Killed: Wild birds
Implicated in death:Fumes from cookware coating facility

In August 1996 the Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (CCWHC) in Ontario, a collaboration of four university veterinarian colleges, investigated a report from the City of Scarborough Department of Public Health alleging an unusual number of wild bird deaths in an area bordering a cookware coating facility. Between July and October the CCWHC collected dead house sparrows, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, starlings, and mourning doves. They found a consistent pattern of lung congestion, edema and occasional hemorrhage among the dead birds, consistent with death from inhalation of PTFE fumes. The Department of Public Health attributed the bird deaths to fumes the factory, and negotiated a plan for emission reductions [16].

Killed: 80 to 100 wild birds
Implicated in death: Fumes from non-stick manufacturing facility

In 1997 scientists in England reported that 80 to 100 wild birds were found dead in a four-hour time span approximately 700 feet from an industrial plant in western England that coated sheet metal with non-stick paint containing PTFE. On the afternoon of the bird deaths, the plant had some problems that resulted in oven temperatures raised up to 880 degF (470 degC) to improve the coating of the sheet metal with the PTFE-containing paint. Wind direction was consistent with fumes travelling from the plant to where the dead birds were found. The authors write, "Most of the birds were found dead, but some were alive, gasping for breath, and died shortly afterwards" [15].