A bit of an explanation as to why eggs from farms are safe and eggs from a residential location may not be.

Post from “lead-net” from 10/29/08 - used with the author’s permission:

In response to a question Kent Ackley with RILeadTechs.com wrote:

Your observation is consistent with our lead inspection field experience.  Old barns, sheds, outhouses, chicken coops, and other buildings that might be accessible to farm animals are generally less likely to have LBP (of course one never knows definitively in any particular location without testing). This might explain why, on a countryside drive today, you are more likely to see well-preserved old farm houses, but old barns that are falling down).

A few farmer friends of mine, whose families have been in the business for centuries, explained to me that for generations, farmers knew that animals were attracted to LBP (either on a building itself, or in the soil after uncontained surface prep created paint chips).  They were also aware that it would cause damage to their live stock if ingested. So it was common practice to use no paint, milk paint, or some other non-LBP to coat the exterior surfaces of buildings and structures where animals had access.

An abstract from a paper on the subject:

Lead contamination of chicken eggs and tissues from a small farm flock

Darrell W. Trampel, Paula M. Imerman, Thomas L. Carson, Julie A. Kinker, Steve M. Ensley

Abstract. Twenty mixed-breed adult laying hens from a small farm flock in Iowa were clinically normal but had been exposed to chips of lead-based paint in their environment. These chickens were brought to the Iowa State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, Ames, Iowa, where the concentration of lead in blood, eggs (yolk, albumen, and shell), and tissues (liver, kidney, muscle, and ovary) from 5 selected chickens was determined over a period of 9 days. Blood lead levels ranged from less than 50 to 760 ppb. Lead contamination of the yolks varied from less than 20 to 400 ppb, and shells were found to contain up to 450 ppb lead. Albumen contained no detectable amount. Lead content of the egg yolks strongly correlated with blood lead levels. Deposition of lead in the shells did not correlate well with blood lead levels. Mean tissue lead accumulation was highest in kidneys (1,360 ppb), with livers ranking second (500 ppb) and ovarian tissue third (320 ppb). Muscle contained the lowest level of lead (280 ppb).

Conclusion: Lead contamination of egg yolks and edible chicken tissues represents a potential public health hazard, especially to children repeatedly consuming eggs from contaminated family-owned flocks. 

(This abstract has been posted with permission of the JVDI: Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation)

This article has 16 references at its conclusion, several of which cite other studies of lead poisoning and chickens. (if you would like more information about this please email me: leadsafe@mac.com )

Article regarding lead poisoning of chickens in Africa (as an indicator that a whole town was poisoned.)http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28484477/

© 2009. Tamara Rubin,  All Rights Reserved