Saturday, March 04, 2006
Yes! We are feeling very relieved, and eating eggs galore! (They were stacking up in the fridge while we waited to hear back from the lab). It’s taken me a while to get to this post, mostly because of the crazy, over-committed life we lead these days. Today is a blissfully unscheduled Saturday, with sun! (which, for us off-grid types, means: quick! do laundry, run the vacuum cleaner, pump water and can we think of anything to cook with the free electric??) Life is never dull.
We sent the eggs to a food products lab and specifically requested that they test the yolks, since that’s where the lead would be (as per this reference). I also had my blood tested. Both came back with good news! The food lab reported a “non-detect” down to their threshold of .025 ppm for lead. After doing some calculations, I figured out that even IF they did contain lead up to that level, someone’s veins could be running with pure egg yolk and still only be at half the EPA’s “safe” level of 10 micrograms per deciliter for kids and pregnant women (there is debate about if that level is protective enough, but…). Since we obviously do not freebase yolks around here, and the fact that animals and then people only absorb a portion of the lead they consume, we’re going to consider these safe. My blood tests also came back with very little or no lead showing up. Really, the time that the chickens were possibly exposed to the lead paint was quite small, and we don’t even know for certain that they ate any of it. Does make me wonder about flocks from the past living in old barns with old paint, though… urgh.
So did we worry for nothing? I don’t think so. It got us to replace the door last weekend, and I feel much more educated about this potential hazard. I breathed SUCH a sigh of relief when that old door was pulled out and sealed in plastic sheeting. The friend who built most of the coop knew how to cut down a new door to fit the historic-door-sized hole in the coop, and the new metal door works great. I’m sad that we couldn’t stick with our idea of recycling building materials, but it feels so good to walk by the coop and not have to be eagle-eyed about any new flaking chips, etc. The other old paint around here (ahem) has all tested as lead-free.
We are thankfully eating our own local eggs again! And it’s a good thing, too, because the chickens are deciding that this nice longer day-length agrees with them. We’re up to about 6-8 eggs a day from the 10 hens. That’s up from about 4 in the darkest winter (we don’t give them any artificial extra light).
Bill would also like to report that he’s feeling better these days, but is a bit perplexed by all this fuss about eggs...