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  QUESTION: Are lead & other pollutants likely to be found in the eggs of backyard chickens in Mt Isa? 11 Nov 2006, Mount Isa, Queensland Australia


I live in Mount Isa which has copper and lead smelters and is in an area with high natural concentrations of lead in the soil. Could you advise me whether lead or other pollutants are likely to be found in the eggs of backyard chickens?
thank you
ANSWER: 21 Nov 2006

Dear Donna,

The simple answer to your question is yes. Chickens and their eggs that have been tested in Boolaroo lead smelter community near Newcastle (the smelter is now closed) as well as those tested in Broken Hill lead mining town in NSW have been found to contain lead. I am not sure whether other heavy metals were tested for but lead is a marker contaminant and you can be guaranteed that if lead is found and the source of the lead is lead ore dust or smelter fumes or slag, then other heavy metals will also have been taken up by the chickens and likely deposited in their eggs.

The best way to find out if this is a problem for your family is to ask the doctor for blood lead tests for the whole family or better still, ask for the four usual heavy metals found in lead mining and smelting communities: lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.
I'd be very keen to hear from you again when you have the blood test results.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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