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May 15, 2003

Canaries in the Kitchen: From the vet's mouth: bird death cases

Bird Death Diary headerBird Death Diary header

Killed: 14 pet birds
Implicated in death: Teflon-coated stovetop burner drip pans

A Chicago-area woman lost 14 birds within 15 minutes of preheating four burners on her electric stove while preparing Thanksgiving dinner. A local avian veterinarian found lung damage (necrotizing pneumonitis) in a post mortem investigation, and upon questioning the bird owner in detail, attributed the deaths to fumes from new, Teflon-coated drip pans installed two weeks earlier [7][8]. Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Consumer Product Safety Commission has banned the use of PTFE coatings on drip pans, which DuPont studies show can approach 1000 degF during routine use. [17,18]

Killed: 107 chicks
Implicated in death: Teflon cookie sheet under over broiler

Chicago-area bird specialist Dr. Peter Sakas documented a case in which 107 chicks died after their owner put a Teflon cookie sheet under a broiler to catch drippings. [18].

Killed: All birds in a breeding operation
Implicated in death: Overheated Teflon pan

Dr. Robert Eckroade, director of the poultry pathology laboratory at New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, reported a case he oversaw in which all the birds in two rooms of a breeding operation died after a Teflon pan in a home was overheated [17].

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

Bird specialist Dr. Richard Nye of the Midwest Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital in west suburban Westchester oversaw a case in which a $2,000 bird died when the bird owner used the self-cleaning feature on a home oven.[17].

Killed: two pet birds
Implicated in death: non-stick pizza pan

Dr. Peter Sakas, a Chicago area veterinarian and bird expert, recounted a case in which an area woman lost a cockatiel and one other bird (species unnamed) while she heated pizza on a non-stick pan [17].

Killed: 14 pet birds
Implicated in death: Teflon cookie sheet used to bake bread

Dr. Sam Vaughn, an avian veterinarian specialist in Louisville, Kentucky, investigated a case in which 14 birds died within 30 minutes of their owner cooking bread on a Teflon cookie sheet and barely burning the bottom of the bread. The cookie sheets had been used before without incident. Dr. Vaughn’s autopsy of two of the 14 birds confirmed lung lesions that are a hallmark effect of PTFE toxicosis [19].