Toxicity and the Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur

Part of being busy in the corporate environment is our tendency to rely on convenience.

It is now well documented that the highly sensitive individual is able to detect and react to environmental stimuli at much quicker levels than the average person. This is great when it comes to wonderful tastes, sounds, feelings and sights, however, there is a dark side to this gift. The highly sensitive individual will also detect and react to toxic environmental stimuli quicker than the average person. Chemicals in the environment of the highly sensitive individual will show up as negative reactions, headaches, allergies, arthritis, anxiety and stress. In “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects our Health,” by authors Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, the research is clear to them. “Studies have shown that significant levels of toxic substances can leach out of commonplace items in our homes and workplaces.” They also go on to say that, “PFCs are part of the modern-living movement, where cost trumps quality and convenience trumps all.”

An astonishing chapter of their book titled, “The World’s Slipperiest Substance,” they discuss Teflon and its chemical relatives called PFCs or Perfluorinated Compounds (PFOA and PFOS).

These are synthetic chemicals that line our popcorn bags and are sprayed on our rugs and clothes to keep them stain free. They’re used to put out fires, and of course, most famously, they line frying pans to prevent food from sticking. In addition to prevalence in our kitchens, PFCs are also common in our bedroom closets.

In centuries past, canaries were lowered into coal mines, and if they died, miners knew that the air below ground could be toxic to them as well. Perhaps we should heed the modern-day equivalent: non-stick coatings literally kill canaries in kitchens. It seems that the delicate respiratory systems of the birds cannot tolerate the fumes from non-stick pans when they are heated to high temperatures. Their little aviator lungs hemorrhage, becoming filled with fluid and causing them to drown. This rapid and deadly syndrome has been known for 35 years and even has a name: Teflon Toxicosis. Non-stick frying pans, toaster ovens, cookie sheets and pizza pans have all been implicated in pet bird deaths. And the bird killings are not restricted to cooking devices. Irons, space heaters, carpet glues and new sofas have all destroyed the sensitive lungs of pet birds, causing them to suffocate. More than one incident of mass bird deaths has been reported in the vicinity of non-stick coating manufacturing plants in Canada and Great Britain. And there are also reports of birds dying from self-cleaning ovens, heat lamps and oven interiors with non-stick coatings.

Although birds appear to be the most sensitive species, they are not the only ones affected by heated non-stick coatings. In more than one experiment, non-stick pans heated to 800 degrees F killed a group of rats in 4 to 8 hours. In several cases of bird deaths after exposure to fumes from Teflon, the bird owners were also hospitalized with what is known as “Polymer Fume Fever” which causes flu-like symptoms, including difficulty breathing, accelerated heart rate, chills and body aches. pg 85


  1. Phthalates
  2. PFCs – Perflurochemicals
  3. PBDEs – Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers
  4. Mercury
  5. Triclosan
  6. Pesticides
  7. Bisphenol A (BPA)