LEAD Action News
LEAD Action News Volume 13 Number 2, April 2013, ISSN 1324-6011
Incorporating Lead Aware Times ( ISSN 1440-4966) and Lead Advisory Service News (ISSN 1440-0561)
The Journal of The LEAD (Lead Education and Abatement Design) Group Inc.
Editorial Team: Elizabeth O’Brien, Zac Gethin-Damon, Hitesh Lohani and Shristi Lohani

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  Info Pack - Lead Poisoned Pets, Poultry and Your Family


Collated by Elizabeth O’Brien, BSc (Sydney), Grad Dip Health EducationChook illustration by Rose Lennon..
Chook illustration by Rose Lennon.

Please check out the following references on lead and pets and poultry:

Tamara Rubin, Portland Tribune 26 March 2009 “Chickens eating lead not so ‘sustainable’: POST SCRIPT - Urban chicken advocates need to care about what they’re consuming” no longer available at http://thevig.portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=123801660877902600;

  High Lead Found in City-Sourced Eggs [in the USA]” By JULIE SCELFO The New York Times Published: October 8, 2012

The LEAD Group fact sheet “Lead Poisoned Pets And Your Family” contains some useful tips on keeping cats, dogs and birds safe from lead and states:

  “Lead poisoning of birds is common and it is often fatal... Lead poisoning can cause sudden death, or it can cause a slow debilitating death over months or years.”

If a pet has already been diagnosed as lead poisoned via a blood lead test, then we recommend blood lead testing for everyone in the family as well as testing their soil and any other possible lead source for the pet, such as paint, galvanized metal eg wire or galvanized corrugated iron, water, bedding materials, compost, soil conditioners, mulches, etc. All these potential lead sources can be tested using a LEAD Group DIY-Sampling Laboratory Lead Analysis Kit Purchasable only from The LEAD Group and the samples will be analysed for lead at a NATA-accredited laboratory which is included in the kit price, The LEAD Group writes an interpretation of the results, with recommendations on what to do about them!

  If you are planning to get a young cat or dog or keep chickens for their eggs, we recommend you test every possible lead source they will have access to, before bringing them in to your yard. This should definitely include a lead test on the soil where they will bury bones, or roll in or dust-bathe in (as is their wont).

Young pets often chew on things and chooks need rocks in their crop to digest the grain so pick up any leaded items that might be lying around, for example, lead-painted objects, galvanised objects, dross from melting of lead batteries, fishing sinkers, bullets, lead washers, lead-headed nails (often used on roofs and discarded in the yard if the roof was replaced or repaired at any point), pieces of lead flashing, lead nuggets from the burning of e-waste, vehicles, buildings, etc.

Unfortunately, there are no Australian guidelines for the lead limit in soil to safely keep poultry or pets safe. The Health-based investigation level of 300 mg/kg for lead in soil in the “standard” residential exposure setting clearly relates only to:

“Residential with gardens/accessible soil (home-grown produce contributing <10% fruit and vegetable intake; no poultry), including children’s day-care centres, pre-schools and primary schools or town houses or villas.”

There are no lead limits given for either:

“Residential with substantial vegetable garden (contributing 10% or more of vegetable and fruit intake) and/or poultry providing any egg or poultry intake”; or

“Residential with substantial vegetable garden (contributing 10% or more of vegetable and fruit intake); poultry excluded.”

[Ref:  page 7 “Exposure Settings” and page 8 Table 1 of "Health-based Soil Investigation Levels” (3rd edition) by enHealth, Commonwealth of Australia, 2001.]

The following lead limits have been extracted from “Environmental Guidelines for the Australian Egg Industry” - A report for the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (AECL) - As part of the DAFF EMS Pathways to Sustainable Agriculture Program, June 2008


Contaminant: Lead


NSW EPA - 150

VIC EPA - 150


ARMCANZ: Australian Guidelines for Sewerage Systems-Biosolids Management (1995)

NSW EPA: Environmental Guidelines for Use and Disposal of Biosolids

VIC EPA: Environmental Guidelines for Composting and Other Organic Facilities

So you’d be wise to ask the supplier of any purchased soil, bedding materials, compost, soil conditioners or mulches for an analysis report including lead analysis.

All the best with your pets and poultry.

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Last Updated 07 May 2013
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