Are Your Urban Chicken's Eggs Contaminated With Lead?  

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 8 2012 3:44 PM

Are Your Urban Chicken's Eggs Contaminated With Lead?  

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An employee Europe's top producer of poultry and processed chicken, holds a chicken during a demonstration in July

Photo by Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images.

I wrote Monday morning about the tragic tendency of low-income children to be exposed to toxic levels of lead, which leads to lifelong cognitive impairments. When an upscale family moves into an urban neighborhood, typically one of the first things they do is make sure to get rid of any lead paint for just this reason. But Julie Scelfo reports that this work may be undone when gentrifying hipsters start raising backyard chickens who are fed on contaminated soil. You factory-farmed eggs have no detectable lead levels, but preliminary research from New York indicates that half of backyard chicken eggs are contaminated with lead.

That's not to say you need to shun all urban chickens, but the general principle is this: If you're going to conduct agricultural pursuits in your backyard, you'd be well-advised to get your soil checked first.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.