Lead exposure from backyard chicken eggs: a public health risk?

Adrienne C. Bautista, Birgit Puschner, Robert H Poppenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the USA has made significant strides in reducing lead exposure, new and emerging sources are raising cause for public concern. Recent reports of finding lead in eggs from chickens raised in urban gardens has highlighted the need to consider the potential health risks of consuming eggs from backyard chickens. Following the detection of 0.33 μg/g lead in the edible portion of eggs submitted for lead analysis from a backyard chicken owner, further investigation was conducted to determine the source and extent of lead exposure in the flock. Several birds, almost two dozen eggs, and environmental samples were submitted to the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory for further testing. Lead was detected in the blood, liver, kidney, and bone at varying concentrations in all birds but was not detected in the muscle tissue. All egg shells contained detectable amounts of lead, while only a little over half of the edible portion of the eggs contained lead. The detected concentrations in the edible portion approached or exceeded the recommended threshold of lead consumption per day that should not be exceeded by young children if a child consumed one average-sized egg. Peeling paint from a wooded structure adjacent to the flock's coop was the likely lead source containing 3,700 μg/g lead. Thus, removal of the chickens from the source and periodic testing of eggs for lead were recommended. This case illustrates the need for consumers and health care workers to be aware of potential sources for lead exposure such as backyard chickens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of medical toxicology : official journal of the American College of Medical Toxicology
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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