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Metal Toxicity In Toy Parts

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jmfleish

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Wow, I wasn't aware about the PVC. I'll have to do some more research...none of the toys I've purchased have had pvc parts, however, the atom I just bought does have PVC connectors. Would vet wrap be a safe material to cover the pvc?
Seriously, that PVC is fine. It's used in your plumbing and has been used in plumbing for 50 years now.
 

lotus15

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Seriously, that PVC is fine. It's used in your plumbing and has been used in plumbing for 50 years now.
Isn't the issue with PVC not that it leaches (that would be polycarbonate, polystyrene) but rather when it is stressed/chewed? I would assume it would be safe for plumbing purposes but being chomped by a big beak might be a different case... again I am still researching this and look forward to what Shyra has to say, but that is my impression in the research I've done thus far?

Edit: from the links below I see that leaching is also an issue, especially with high temperatures.
 
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birdsafe

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I can give some information based not only my experience with birds and toys, but I was a professional firefighter for 25 years. I stay away from PVC and don't like it in the house because if there is a fire, it's deadly stuff. I don't know about birds ingesting it, but if it's not food grade plastic, I don't like it.

Metals -- nickel-plated and stainless are fine -- even plated zinc is *okay* for some birds, but if a bird "beaks" metal, I would replace it with stainless. We offer stainless in our custom perches, including the bolt, but use nickel chain and pear links -- there are good stainless pear links, but the nut on them is nickel, not stainless. The biggest issue with hardware that is not either stainless or nickel-plated is that they rust, and that is not good for birds.

You also can't tell stainless with the magnet test -- some stainless steel is magnetic.

There is really much more of a hazard to our birds with stuff OUTSIDE their cages than there is from the toys or cages themselves -- miniblinds, jewelry, other household stuff.
 

jamie

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I can give some information based not only my experience with birds and toys, but I was a professional firefighter for 25 years. I stay away from PVC and don't like it in the house because if there is a fire, it's deadly stuff. I don't know about birds ingesting it, but if it's not food grade plastic, I don't like it.

Metals -- nickel-plated and stainless are fine -- even plated zinc is *okay* for some birds, but if a bird "beaks" metal, I would replace it with stainless. We offer stainless in our custom perches, including the bolt, but use nickel chain and pear links -- there are good stainless pear links, but the nut on them is nickel, not stainless. The biggest issue with hardware that is not either stainless or nickel-plated is that they rust, and that is not good for birds.

You also can't tell stainless with the magnet test -- some stainless steel is magnetic.

There is really much more of a hazard to our birds with stuff OUTSIDE their cages than there is from the toys or cages themselves -- miniblinds, jewelry, other household stuff.
Thanks for the information, Joe.
 

luvsgreys

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Thank you for the info!
 

Nikki

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I can give some information based not only my experience with birds and toys, but I was a professional firefighter for 25 years. I stay away from PVC and don't like it in the house because if there is a fire, it's deadly stuff. I don't know about birds ingesting it, but if it's not food grade plastic, I don't like it.

Metals -- nickel-plated and stainless are fine -- even plated zinc is *okay* for some birds, but if a bird "beaks" metal, I would replace it with stainless. We offer stainless in our custom perches, including the bolt, but use nickel chain and pear links -- there are good stainless pear links, but the nut on them is nickel, not stainless. The biggest issue with hardware that is not either stainless or nickel-plated is that they rust, and that is not good for birds.

You also can't tell stainless with the magnet test -- some stainless steel is magnetic.

There is really much more of a hazard to our birds with stuff OUTSIDE their cages than there is from the toys or cages themselves -- miniblinds, jewelry, other household stuff.
Great post, Joe! Thank you so much for the info! :highfive:
 

lotus15

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We offer stainless in our custom perches, including the bolt, but use nickel chain and pear links -- there are good stainless pear links, but the nut on them is nickel, not stainless.
Great post Joe-- how can we tell if a quick link is all stainless or not?
 

birdstuff

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I agree with Joe about the hardware as well as household dangers but I'd like to add a couple of things...

What makes SS safer than nickle is it's hardness. I spent 10 years as a machinist and I learned a lot about metals during that time. There are 2 different issues to consider here.

The first is metal poisoning which any bird is subject to if they enjoy chewing on metals. Even smaller birds can grind microscopic shavings from stainless steel, let alone the softer metals like nickle, putting them in risk of metal poisoning. For these birds I feel all metals should be avoided.

Next is the issue of zinc poisoning. This is the tricky one. Zinc in and of it's self is not toxic but just as some people can not tolerate iron, some birds can not tolerate zinc. It's important to note that the zinc metal is not the same as zinc found in foods, which is essential to your birds health.

Since there isn't a way to know whether or not our birds are one of the few who can not tolerate zinc, (after all... they are each "one in a million" to us who love them) it's best to avoid it.

I hope this helps somewhat & I think this is a great thread!
 

sugarbeth

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I'm actually going to start phasing out any toys that have metal parts, and only use SS where necessary. Buzz has got a bunch with nickel-plated chains and connectors and I'd like get rid of the nickel. It's easy enough to tie up a toy with a piece of rope, so I'm just going to do that, and replace metal chains with either plastic or rope or veggie-tanned leather.
 

Jan

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In my own use, I have never worried about using galvanized items and have never had any problems neither. In dealing with keeping breeder birds in wire caging which is galvanized and no problems through all these years. Quick links also have not ever given my any problems at all except for the fact a bird or two has got hung up on a quick link due to the fact that it was opened... my fault there and lesson learned.

As for my sales, I use nickel plated and stainless steel in my Jolly Balls for the hardware. I let the customer choose which one they want, so the choice is theirs and some people do not want to pay the higher price of Stainless Steel even though they know it is safer. I have I guess what would be considered the medium size pear quick link in both Stainless Steel & Nickel Plated. A magnet does not stick to any of my Stainless Steel. It does stick to my Nickel Plated items though.

Eventually I maybe selling all metal hardware only in Stainless Steel but when I do I will be transitioning into it as I sell what I have in stock in Nickel Plated items.
 

Shyra

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With metal parts I stick with the NP and SS. If a toy is going to be a short term toy meaning it's not meant to last more than a few weeks at best then I think NP is fine. Most of the time it's tossed out with the remaining remnants of the toy. I will reuse it for my own birds toys once or twice (quicklinks many times) but because it's plated it is something that needs to be kept an eye on because it will wear off in time. I just don't feel it's worth using SS unless the toy is going to last a long time like some of the acrylic forever toys or a toy base that will be used over and over again. One exception for sure is a bird who loves to chew on metal. Then I strongly recommend using SS only. I do try to keep all the same metals on toys I sell. So if I have one SS part on it I make sure all the metal parts are.

I also think schedule 40 PVC is safe to use as long as the birds are not chewing on it or ingesting it. I've talked to a chemist, and two manufacturers as well as read all the pros and con articles. I treat it like I would any safe plastic toy part. I just think that after being used as water pipes, for chemical pipes, waste, etc. etc. we would be seeing more problems with it than we do if it wasn't safe. That's my opinion based on my research and only on the schedule 40 pvc. There are plenty of bad plastics out there containing other types of pvc that are toxic. As far as leaching goes I'm pretty much under the impression that all plastics do to some degree. They have found that the food grade ones do as well. Any plastic that gets too hot will give off deadly fumes. So unless you forego plastic completely....

Let's face it, there's not a toy part that doesn't have safety concerns of one type or another. Even naturals. 100% natural could mean it was treated with a natural chemical that isn't safe for birds but FDA still classifies it as all natural. Naturals don't come into the country without being fumigated one way or another. There is what is considered the safe way for naturals that will be used around food, and is also used on a few other types, then there are a couple of other ways that are dangerous for our birds. Even if you go get a branch from your backyard it's been exposed to pollutants in the air. Who knows how deep they soak into the wood. The untreated wood bought at the lumber store--have you seen the big trucks hauling it down the streets. Most of the time they are uncovered and soaking in all the car fumes.

My point is nothing is truly safe. All we can do is decide what we consider to be the lesser of the evils and what we are comfortable using with our own birds. I try to make sure that the parts I sell do not contain lead or other metals, do not have some of the bad pthalates in them, I check to find out all the processes used from the time the naturals are gathered to the time they arrive at my door, and believe each item I sell meets a standard of safety for birds. The most important thing about any toy or part comes down to knowing how your bird plays and remembering that he will not always play with that toy the same way so you have to continually pay attention. If your bird chews on metal ask what type is on the toys. If your bird is a big plastic chewer make sure if the plastic parts are hard or soft. Some birds are more prone to ingesting the softer ones so it's important to have an idea as to how yours will play with the toy. Ask about the naturals being sold - How were they fumigated? gassed? sprayed? treated with anything? Remember just because a part looks the same doesn't mean it came from the same manufacturer so you need to ask for details. There is a lot to keep up with but it's worth doing to keep our birds safe.

Sorry my two cents was more like a quarter's worth.
 
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SBC

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Hello to all,

I've spoken to two members of your forum (Nikki and Saroj) in regards to the issue of zinc in bird toy components over the past few days. They were both kind enough to invite me to make a post relative to this topic as well as to clarify specifics on the nature of the hardware used in the Super Bird Creations line of toys.

The zinc issue is one that is not without a lot of controversy within the avian vet as well as the bird owner communities. There is unfortunately a lot of misinformation on the web regarding this topic and I can't blame bird owners for feeling concerned, I was too when I first heard of it several years ago. By making this post I hope to present my perspective which has been developed through discussions with other avian professionals.

Specifically, I have discussed the topic with Dr. Greg Burkett, DVM Diplomate ABVP, on multiple occasions. Dr. Burkett has been selling my entire line of toys for over 15 years through both his bird store, Birdie Boutique, as well as his distributorship, Diamond Avian Distributors. I have also informally discussed the issue with both Dr. Larry Nemetz, DVM and Dr. Tom Roudybush (Avian Nutritionist) when I had the fortunate opportunity to encounter them at a Pet Industry Trade Show 4 to 5 years ago. Based on these discussions, I made a decision to make sure that Super Bird Creations always used non-galvanized hardware wherever that hardware could pose a risk of accidental ingestion of a small component (ie., bell clapper,link, etc.)

The following is an extract from our toy safety article which can be read in it's entirety at www.superbirdtoys.com/articles/safety.htm

"A lot has been mentioned recently about zinc toxicity in birds. Many bird toys are made with zinc coated (galvanized) metal components. Zinc is also commonly found in cage powder coatings. Some avian health specialists have stated that in order for zinc related health problems to result that the parrot must actually swallow the metal components and that “beaking” the parts is insufficient for toxicity to develop unless the galvanized coating is extremely brittle and flaky. If a bird spends a lot of time chewing on toy hardware (i.e., washers, quick links, wire) then it is possible they will ingest enough zinc to build up toxic levels in their systems over time. Owners who are worried about the possible health effects can often find stainless steel replacement components at their local hardware store. This option is also often much more cost effective to the consumer than buying toys constructed with stainless steel parts."


All of the Super Bird Creations hardware is "zinc free" with the exception of our wire, hanger bolts and washers which are electro-galvanized.


Galvanization is the name of the method used to treat steel to prevent rusting. Not all methods of galvanization are "equal" when it comes to posing a risk of zinc ingestion. The two main methods of galvanization are hot dip galvanization and electro-galvanization:


* Hot dip galvanization is where the metal is dipped in essentially a bath of molten zinc. Metal treated in this fashion has a dull, rough and flaky surface of zinc which does pose a risk of zinc ingestion to birds if chewed.

* Electro-galvanizing is process where a thinner, tighter-bonding coat of zinc is applied to a metal via electroplating. The surface of materials treated by this method are smooth and shiny in comparison to those treated by the hot dip method. In other words, there are no loose and flaky zinc components available for birds to swallow. Metals treated by this procedure do not pose a risk of zinc ingestion as long as the metal object can not be swallowed in it's entirety.

In closing, I would like to say that birds have been an integral part of my life for close to 50 years and I'm blessed with a wonderful, happy and healthy feathered family some of whom have been playing with my toys for up to 18 years now. Based on my research and consultations, I do not have the slightest reservation giving any of the Super Bird Creations toys to my birds.

I appreciate having had the invitation to make this post and look forward to participating on the forum in the future.

Best Regards,

Deb White
Super Bird Creations
www.superbirdtoys.com
 

jamie

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Thanks for the information and for joining the forum, Deb!
 

saroj12

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Hi Deb!
So glad you could join us :)
 

itzmered

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Thank you for the detailed info. I am a very happy customer and my birds love the SBC toys!
 

birdlvr466

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Thank you Deb for the informative post. I just ordered some of your toys from Nikki's store and look forward to receiving them. :)
 

birdsafe

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Some more information related to cages and paint that I have found out:

1. They "hype" about Chinese cages is pretty much "hype" -- there have been very few actual consistent cases of zinc or lead in leading cage manufacturers in the last few years. Much of the hype about these cages may be hyped up by manufacturers of cages from other countries (such as Mexico or Europe -- I don't think any cages are made in the US any more).

2. You can have a cage tested by a professional lab and have it come back high for zinc, and the manufacturer will not honor the warranty -- they will insist that your test was "bad" -- I've seen cases where an avian vet tech took the sample, sent it off to the Louisiana State lab for testing, it came back high for zinc, and yet the manufacturer insists that the test wasn't done properly -- they insist that their cages CANNOT have zinc to hazardous levels -- it's rare, but if it does happen, they will not honor a warranty.
 

lotus15

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Joe, interesting you post that, I actually know first hand a few people who tested a bunch of the major cage companies at the LA State Lab and found that the "hype" about Chinese cages really isn't hype... there were several cases across the board of zinc and lead in the paint on most powder-coated cages. Some were worse than others (A&E for example consistently tested positively whereas HQ was more inconsistent-- they seem to suffer more from quality control). There are some but very few American made cage companies left.

But I do agree with #2, in all cases I've heard they did not honor their warranties.
 
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