Report Backyard hens’ eggs contain 40 times more lead on average than shop eggs, research finds

tom_mai78101

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There’s nothing like the fresh eggs from your own hens, the more than 400,000 Australians who keep backyard chooks will tell you. Unfortunately, it’s often not just freshness and flavour that set their eggs apart from those in the shops.

Our newly published research found backyard hens’ eggs contain, on average, more than 40 times the lead levels of commercially produced eggs. Almost one in two hens in our Sydney study had significant lead levels in their blood. Similarly, about half the eggs analysed contained lead at levels that may pose a health concern for consumers.

Even low levels of lead exposure are considered harmful to human health, including among other effects cardiovascular disease and decreased IQ and kidney function. Indeed, the World Health Organization has stated there is no safe level of lead exposure.

So how do you know whether this is a likely problem in the eggs you’re getting from backyard hens? It depends on lead levels in your soil, which vary across our cities. We mapped the areas of high and low risk for hens and their eggs in our biggest cities – Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and present these maps here.

Our research details lead poisoning of backyard chickens and explains what this means for urban gardening and food production. In older homes close to city centres, contaminated soils can greatly increase people’s exposure to lead through eating eggs from backyard hens.


 

The Helper

Necromancy Power over 9000
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One of my friends gets all his eggs from his backyard chickens. I wonder what the lead content is there? I wonder how you find out?
 

tom_mai78101

The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host
Staff member
One of my friends gets all his eggs from his backyard chickens. I wonder what the lead content is there? I wonder how you find out?
  • Chicken blood sampling
  • Egg collection. (Egg shells analysis)
  • Reports of chickens displaying behaviours that they considered might be associated with Lead Pb exposure (loss of appetite, weight loss and cessation of egg laying).
  • Participant's drinking water supply for the chicken.
  • Participant's food scraps for the chicken.
  • Soil analysis.

More details can be found in this research paper:

 
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