Newspapers and Parrot Safety

When considering materials for the care and entertainment of your parrot, know the facts.

Newspapers and Parrot Safety

Let's talk about ink and chemicals as it pertains to your parrots and newspapers or phonebooks. Chemicals really just boil down to a recipe of elements you find on the Periodic Tables.  Combine elements correctly, good things happen. Combine them poorly, something is going to melt, explode or disappear the hard way. There's some misunderstanding about one sort of chemical in the bird world that is leading some to be quite afraid of newspapers and phonebooks as they pertain to their parrots. I'm not sure why because the chemical in question can be found in all kinds of household and personal care products, and in far more dense amounts. So I thought I'd offer some thoughts and facts for everyone to read, and add to their own personal decisions and group conversations.  I'm not here to make up minds or convince others of anything that affects their flocks personally. I offer what I know professionally and in the business of print. For me and my flock, we will be using newspapers and phonebooks freely, and with no fear.  I'll tell you the whys, and then I'll tell you the hows.

A lesson in pigmentation. As a Fine Artist by schooling and trade I have about 40 years of experience with pigments. Cadmium mades a lovely yellow. Ultramarine is a soft going sky blue, UNLESS you prefer the synthetic ultramarine, thats like the deep blue sea. As a graphic designer and art director in print and web for 16 of those years I bring up elements because inks are made of elements which are used to create pigments. Here is as great link to read about  the history of pigments inside the industrial and artisnal applications

BUT we are only going to talk about the color black. Black is a color and a pigment. White is not a color, but a pigment or element (titanium). Black pigments were called Ivory Black (created from the ash of burnt Ivory), Vine Black(created by charring grape vines and stems) and Lamp Black (traditionally collected soot from oil lamps back in the day). Today we rely on Carbon Black (CII, PDB-7) traditionally created by charring organic materials such as wood or bone. It appears black because the carbon does not reflect light in the visible spectrum. It has an albedo close to zero. I say these facts because it is 2015 and outside of the artisinal world (artist's paints and products) carbon black requires biodegradable production at cost for mass printing jobs. AND with new global and national safety and environmental standards in place, there isn't time or law to support scraping oil lamps or burning expensive pretroleums or illegal ivory for inks. Carbon Blacks for ink in the 2000s are now created by burn off of sustainable plants for instance. Additionally, carbon black in ink industry use grades of carbon black that are acid oxidized. Changing the chemically bonded oxygen on the surface area of the black increasing performance characteristics. WHICH is then affected by what papers (glossy or matte or natural fiber) is being printed on. So you see, it's not just "carbon black". 

That being said today's carbon black is not the same carbon black as say, 1999. And Carbon Black on light weight newsprint paper and sheer yellow low weight phonebook paper is not the carbon black you'll find in your makeup, food packaging, or plastic bowls you are microwaving. Not at all. Ladies, your eyeliner has more carbon black than your newspaper. I stopped using makeup years ago simply because of the level of aluminum alone, lets forget the carbon black.

Newspapers and phonebooks have been under the environmentalist's guns for years. Ink, paper and recyclability has been challenged and defined then redefined to meet or beat water safety standards, recycling standards, and the simple production standards in industrial environmental laws currently hanging over all manufacturer's heads. If you are worried about newspaper ink and phonebook ink, you really are late to the dinner party. The environmentalists have been beating on them for 15 years now.  Today newsprint ink is made primarily from soybean oil.  Carbon Black is carbon based. It's when you get into the full color spectrum things get wonky. Cadmium, sulfur and so forth are required to create rich deep opaque pigments.

Yes, newspaper ink and phonebook ink contains carbon black. ALL materials that are black contain carbon black. ALL. Not some. ALL. BUT it is the literal use of the Carbon Black that dictates it's origin and danger. So, do NOT let your parrots chew on your car tires. The carbon black in them is pure petroleum based and chemically induced. No one should chew on car tires.

Hold up a newspaper, just one sheet, unfolded. Look at it with a bright window behind it. Can you read it? Do you know why it's so hard to read? Because of the density of the carbon black in the ink as it sits on the paper fibers. Do the same with a phone book page. Do you see my point?

If you really want to be concerned with chemicals that affect your parrot, I highly suggest you look at your skin care products, men and women. Because when you put the lotion on, and then physically interact with your parrot, THEY put the lotion on. And let me tell you, there is more petroleum and chemicals going on in any national brand of skin lotion than a stack of newspapers piled to the moon.

You want to talk about chemicals? Stop buying canned anything. Cans are sprayed with a petroleum skin on the interior to help the aluminum "maintain" food integrity. This lining breaks down during shelf life and joins the contained product. This is beginning to change in the States, slowly. I think the EU already handled the issue. I suggest you purchase frozen vegetables.

What about the deoderant and hairspray you use? Read the label. Get back to me on that.

Carbon black in it's form, format, PPM and application as contained in newsprint or phonebooks is truly the least of our daily concerns in a modern world.

I use newspapers for shredding toy builds, cage liners and Snickers steals pages of them while I'm trying to clean cages. Felix will not get into his tent without a fresh phonebook.  

Tips:  Remove ALL advertising inserts from newspapers. Those prints came from advertising gang run printers. Their inks are cheap and suspect at best as they use gloss, semi gloss and heavy weight card stocks requiring a different type of ink. Newspapers do NOT print the inserts. Their advertisers do and ship to the newspapers real time. Tear off the front and back covers of your phonebooks, tear out all semi gloss and gloss cardstock inserts as well.

This is a long, dry, and black and white article. I hope you got through it and I hope you see that newspapers and phonebooks are not the enemy. No, hyperbole with cherry picked facts stirred up with opinion based on rumor is our enemy. Interestingly enough, in all the pro and con arguments I've seen on this subject, not one person discusses sourcing and storage of newspapers and phonebooks. It's the paper that can cause trouble, not the ink at that point.

As always I hope you will do what YOU feel is best for YOUR flock. Because afterall, no one knows you and your flock better than you. We all need to feel strong about the choices we make. And when I find large groups debating, I know no one feels strong about what they know, yet.

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