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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #5, Page #20
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Teflon-Coated Light Bulbs Kill Birds, Says Farmer

Don’t use Teflon-coated light bulbs in chicken coops or other closed areas with birds. Teflon is toxic to birds. Unfortunately, not all Teflon-coated bulbs are labeled as such, says Lynn Chong, who found this fact out the hard way. She installed a GE Rough Service Worklight 100 in her chicken coop on a Sunday morning. When she came back that night, all 19 birds were dead...stretched out like they were gasping for air. In fact, they had drowned in their own lung fluid due to PTFE/Teflon gassing.
  “I took four of them to the University of New Hampshire Extension Service veterinarian the next day. After an initial exam, she did electron microscopy of lung tissue,” recalls Chong. “She called to ask if I had any Teflon in the chicken shed. I told her no. The only thing different was the new light bulb that morning.”
  The vet Googled the bulb and reported back that it was coated with Teflon (GE has since removed website mention of Teflon on the bulb). She explained, and Chong later learned from other sources, that Teflon Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is hazardous to birds. Parakeet owners are warned not to keep birds in their kitchens when cooking with Teflon pans. People can also suffer from Teflon flu, a reaction to heated Teflon.
  Chong discovered that Sylvania Rough Service Frosted bulbs have a similar coating. However, they are labeled with a warning sticker. It says, “This product contains PTFE. When heated, it creates fumes potentially fatal to confined birds”. They also have a yellow sticker that says, “Advanced Safety Coating TEFCOTE”.
  When Chong contacted GE, they asked her to send the bulb and called it defective. GE’s insurance company later offered her $782 to cover the cost of vet testing and her loss. The check required a non-disclosure agreement. Chong waited a year and a half for GE to label their bulbs to warn consumers. They never did. She returned the check when she decided to contact the media and share her story.
  “It was traumatic and will stay with me,” says Chong. “I had one of those birds, a Banty rooster, for nearly 12 years. Others were given to me by friends.”
  Chong believes GE should label their bulbs like Sylvania does. All their bulbs say is that they have a “protective coating” to help contain glass fragments if broken.
  Chong has appealed to the American Lighting Association, a trade group, OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency. She continues to tell her story to the media in hopes that others won’t have to go through what she did.
  “There is no safe level of Teflon around confined birds,” she says. “We should probably be thinking, too, about Teflon and chickens as being like canaries in coal mines. If Teflon/PTFE fumes can kill birds, what do they do to humans, even if more subtly?”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lynn Chong, 34 Wadleigh Rd, Sanbornton, N.H. 03269 (ph 603 934-6486; chonglyn@metrocast.net).
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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #5