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Assessment of the bioaccumulation of metals to chicken eggs from residential backyards

Grace, Emily J., MacFarlane, Geoff R.
The Science of the total environment 2016 v.563-564 pp. 256-260
arsenic, bioaccumulation, cadmium, chicken eggs, chickens, copper, disturbed soils, eggs, farming systems, gardening, geophagia, lead, meat, soil pollution, soil quality, urban areas, urban soils, vegetable growing, vegetables, zinc, Australia, New Zealand
Soil in urban areas contains the residues of past land-uses and practices. Urban farming (keeping chickens, vegetable gardening) requires soil disturbance and can increase exposure of residents to these contaminants. We measured the level of lead, arsenic, cadmium, copper and zinc contaminants in soil and eggs from 26 backyard chicken coops across the Lower Hunter, NSW Australia. We compared the levels of metals in soil to Health Investigation Levels and metals in home-grown eggs to the levels in commercial eggs tested in this study or published by Food Standards Australia New Zealand. The levels of arsenic, cadmium, copper and zinc were low, both in soil and in home-grown eggs and were comparable to commercial eggs tested in this study. The Health Investigation Level for lead in soil (300mglead/kg soil) was exceeded at 7 of the 26 sites. The level of lead in home-grown eggs was generally higher than in commercial eggs. The reference health standard for meat (including chicken), fruit and vegetables of 0.1mglead/kg produce was exceeded in home-grown eggs from 7 of the 26 sites. There was a significant relationship between the lead level in eggs and the lead level in soil accessible to chickens. As soil lead increased, concentrations of lead in eggs tended to increase. No relationship was detected between the lead level in feed and in eggs. We recommend strategies to reduce ingestion of soil by chickens thereby reducing metal contamination in home-grown eggs.