Toxicity Of Non-stick Cookware
Q: My brother-in-law and his wife have a few birds and they say they can't cook with non-stick cookware because the fumes given off by the non-stick coating when subjected to heat is toxic to and will kill the birds. My questions are: 1) is this true 2) if it is, what effect do these 'fumes' have on my wife and I (adults) and my 2 young kids (one of which is a new-born)
A: That pet birds have been killed from exposure to fumes from nonstick cookware, yes. It seems that overheating the pan (450F+) is sufficient for nonstick coatings to outgas and the gas is extremely toxic to birds. However, I have kept birds and used nonstick cookware for years with no ill effects. I do not keep the birds in the kitchen and I do not use my nonstick pans in high-heat situations. I think this whole scare is overrated. I have a tiny kitchen linked by a bar to my livingroom area wherein I cage 3 birds. I suppose the distance between the birds and my stove is an unobstructed 10 feet (yes, just went to look at it, 10 feet). I do plenty of frying on non-stick pans and some of those pans are scratched by regular use. My birds are doing just fine, all very perky and healthy and one of my cockatiels, Linus, is pushing 16 years when the life expectancy of this type of bird is supposed to be 12-15 years. I have been using non-stick frypans regularly since he was a baby.