Safety Precautions When Using PTFE-Coated Lights Around Birds

Lighting Basics

In recent news, there were around 3 dozen birds in a zoo that have reportedly died due to exposure to polytetrafluoroethylene-coated lights. Polytetrafluoroethylene is simply abbreviated as PTFE. The birds were allegedly exposed to toxic fumes that were released by the PTFE lamps. These toxic fumes were released when the lamps became hot. The toxic fumes then entered the lungs of the birds. The inhalation of these fumes resulted in the death of the birds. Several pet owners have also reported bird deaths when their birds were exposed to PTFE-coated lights or PTFE-coated objects.

In light of this recent discovery, PTFE-coated lamps are no longer recommended to be used in places where birds congregate like poultry farms, pet stores, bird incubators or even bird cages.PTFE is most commonly known under the name Teflon® and have various applications. Teflon® is known for its non-stick properties. That is why it is most popularly found in non-stick pans.

However, Teflon® is also found in ovens, kitchen utensils and plates. Hair salon equipments like curling irons may be coated with Teflon®. Some hair dryers may also be coated with this chemical. In the lighting industry, PTFE is used to coat lamps. These lamps are coated with PTFE to make it shatter-proof. Another application for PTFE is the PTFE-coated bullets especially the armor-piercing kind. PTFE in bullets is said to reduce the side effects of gun overuse or gun firing. Surprisingly, PTFE is used in heart surgery. PTFE grafts are used in lieu of vein grafts.

Although PTFE is said to be very stable, once it is exposed to heat of 260°C or above, it starts to become unstable. When exposed to high temperatures, PTFE releases fumes that can be fatal to birds. It is potentially harmful to humans and causes flu-like sickness although no reports have been made regarding its fatality to humans.

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