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Eggs from urban hens: too polluted to be eaten


The Île-de-France Regional Health Agency (ARS) recommends no longer consuming eggs from domestic hens because they contain too many persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

This contamination is due to soil pollution accumulated over decades.

Rural areas are not spared by the deposits of these pollutants in the soil linked to incineration, open burning and old uses of PCBs. This is why the recommendation applies to the whole of Île-de-France, even if contamination in rural areas is probably more diffuse and less systematic than in urban areas.»

The ARS has undertaken to check the contamination of eggs from domestic poultry houses after an initial alert launched by the ToxicoWatch foundation in February 2022.

It had the soils and eggs of 25 henhouses distributed in the urbanized areas of Île-de-France analyzed. Among the 25 sites:

  • 21 samples exceeded the regulatory threshold for dioxins, furans and PCBs which applies to marketed eggs;

  • two have particularly high levels of PCBs in eggs (40 to 50 times the European regulatory thresholds for marketed eggs).

Health risks

Regular consumption of foods contaminated with dioxins, furans and PCBs leads to a gradual impregnation of the body which can have long-term health effects, such as an increased risk of cancer, fertility disorders and pregnancy, metabolic effects such as diabetes and endocrine disrupting effects“, mentions the ARS.

The regions concerned

The ARS estimates that the contamination of the urban environment is widespread in the Paris region, and is not only due to incinerators (the Toxiwatch survey focused on the surroundings of incinerators).

“The other metropolises are also concerned”, underlined the ARS, contacted by the UFC-Que Choisir.

Garden meats and vegetables

It is also recommended not to eat the flesh of hens and chickens reared on bare ground in domestic breeding.»

Vegetable crops on contaminated soil are much less at risk even if it cannot be ruled out that certain vegetables capture these molecules. But this share remains much lower than that absorbed by products of animal origin. In general, vegetables contribute only 0.1% of dietary exposure (adults and children).»

Have the eggs of his hens analyzed?

Certain laboratories specializing in the analysis of sanitary foodstuffs, mentioned by the ARS, can carry out egg analyses. The cost of an analysis is around 400 euros.

Learn more

The Ile-de-France ARS answers several questions on its site: Persistent organic pollutants in eggs from domestic poultry houses: what you need to know.

Persistent pollutants aren’t the only problem with domestic chicken eggs. They may also contain heavy metals. A study, published in 2022 by Australian researchers in the journal Environmental Pollution and reported by researchers in The Conversationshowed that eggs from hens in the city of Sydney contain, on average, more than 40 times the lead levels of commercially produced eggs.

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Psychomedia with sources: ARS d’Ile-de-France, UFC-Que Choisir, Environmental Pollution, The Conversation.
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