Buying New Appliances?

Consumers have fought a won a small battle with the manufacturers of the products we buy.  We have demanded that products be safe for the environment and safe for us in our homes.  In today’s market, there are a variety of products labeled as “green”. But what does “green” mean exactly? The color green suggests a healthy environment.  A “green” product claims to be ecologically responsible. Green is also the color of money, which is exactly what retailers make using this term.

Regardless, it’s a step forward.  It is now possible to contact a manufacturer about ingredients and processes used to make their products and get an actual answer instead of dead air, followed by “I don’t know”. They understand, and are willing to address our concerns. However, don’t expect anytime soon to see big warning signs telling us that “this product may be hazardous to your future health and might kill your parrots”.  We have to be smart enough to educate ourselves.

Who would think to wonder if something as seemingly harmless as a hairdryer might pollute the air with toxins?  Or the toaster oven?  The new stove?  I know.  It makes you begin to wonder if anything you own is actually safe.

The one thing these products have in common is that they produce heat. Appliances that get hot are sometimes coated with a non-stick teflon surface. Heated teflon surfaces throw dangerous chemical gases into the air called PTFEs (polytetrafluoroethylene). These odorless gases can kill a bird in minutes.  It’s not just cookware coated with this surface that are the enemy.

When buying new appliances, the internal surfaces need to be a serious consideration to parrot owners.  Be sure you contact the manufacturer before you purchase to ask questions and state concerns.  Be certain to ask if there are any non-stick coated surfaces, and will this outgas PTFEs?

Regardless of the answer you receive, take certain safeguards anyways. After you install your new stove, open your windows and doors and take any living things away from the house: your family, your birds and your other pets (feel free to leave the ants behind). Turn all burners on the new stove to high, and turn the oven on to the highest temperature (with the door shut) and leave them running for at least 30 minutes. This will burn off any residues on the burners and inside surfaces from cleaning chemicals or other substances coating them.  Be sure the air is clean before you bring the birds back in.  Because of their dynamic respiratory system, a bird will fall victim to toxic air far quicker that a mammal.

Note: In case you don’t know this, you should never use the self-cleaning feature on your oven for these same reasons. Self cleaning oven produce such high temperatures that out-gasing is a serious concern.

Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.

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