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Article Archive

    Airborne Hazards

    Airborne Hazards
    • Introduction
    • List of Hazards
    • Environmental Consequences
    • About the Author
    • To learn more about airborne hazards call (717) 299-5691


    Introduction

    Birds are sensitive to many of the chemicals we use in our home to keep it clean and make it smell good. This is because their lungs are so incredibly efficient that whatever enters their lungs finds its way into their bloodstream in a very short period of time. The effects of these toxins on the body can be instant, causing death within minutes, or the chemicals can build up in the bird's body over a period of time and drastically shorten its lifespan.

    Even if you have had a bird before that was exposed to these chemicals and it was fine, it’s impossible to know what effect they may have had on the bird's organs and their overall health and lifespan unless you have a necropsy done after death. Also, some birds are more sensitive to these toxins than others, so it's also impossible to know if your new bird will be more sensitive and experience serious health problems due to specific chemicals.


    List of Hazards

    The following list includes many widely used products, though it may not include every chemical you use in your home. As a rule of thumb, anything other than basic soap and water, vinegar and water, baking soda and water or fresh cut flowers can pose a possible hazard and should be not be used in a room where birds are present. We do not recommend that you use any of the following chemicals in the same room as your birds, and it would probably be best (if at all possible) not to use them in any adjoining rooms as well.

    Nonstick coating on pans:
    When nonstick pans (or any object which has such a coating, such as an iron, a heater, a toaster, a hair dryer or a self-cleaning oven) are heated, some of the coating may be released into the air as a colorless, odorless chemical which is toxic, in certain concentrations, to humans. The items you find in your home will not cause you any harm, but because they still emit very diluted amounts of that chemical, they can be fatal for birds. A bird exposed to the chemicals emitted from a nonstick object (especially that has been overheated) can die within minutes.

    Scented Candles:
    Many long-burning candles contain a metal core inside their wick that, when burnt, sends small metal particles into the air. Other scented products include:

    Incense:
    Not only the fragrance but the smoke itself can be irritating to their lungs.

    Essential Oils:
    These are all-natural but are in a concentrated state that is usually too strong to be safe for birds.

    Perfumes:
    Do not use perfume or any other strongly scented items around a bird.

    Air Fresheners:
    Whether it’s an aerosol, a wall plug-in unit, or a spray-on Fabric Freshener, it's not safe.

    Cigarette/Cigar Smoke:
    It’s not good for birds for the same reason that it’s not good for people, only more so because of how efficient bird lungs are. If you have birds and you smoke, it would be best to either stop smoking or smoke outside. If you have just recently stopped smoking, air your house out for a couple of weeks before bringing the bird home to be sure all the smoke is out of the air. Also, be sure to wash your hands and lips before holding your bird, as nicotine can be absorbed from your fingers through the bird’s skin and may cause health problems.

    Chemical Pesticides (especially aerosols):
    Something that can kill roaches, spiders or fleas can certainly harm your bird.

    Cleaning Products:
    Anything other than vinegar, water, plain soap (like dish soap) and baking soda has the possiblity of harming your bird. If you need to clean the carpet or use bleach, ammonia, window cleaner, wood cleaner, floor cleaner or any other toxic chemical, move the bird to another room and don’t bring it back in until all the smell of the chemical is completely gone. In fact, if this is something you have to do regularly, you may want to invest in an air purifier to help keep the danger of chemical exposure lower.

    Other Possible Dangers Include:
    Wet Paint / Paint Thinner / Paint Stripper
    Drying Glue (unless it is completely non-toxic)
    Formaldehyde Fumes from New Carpet