Enlarge image

Eggs: Health threat from the garden?

Photo: Pascal Deloche / Godong / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

In the Paris area, health authorities advise against the consumption of privately held eggs due to excessive contamination of the soil with per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS). The consumption of fruit and vegetables from one's own garden, as well as gardening itself, can also mean a health burden for people in the region, the health authority ARS in Paris said. The warning applies in particular to children and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Eggs from professional husbandry, which are supplied to the trade, are therefore not affected, as chickens are exposed to less polluted soils there.

In 23 out of 25 private chicken coops examined, the eggs showed increased contamination with the so-called eternal chemicals. From this, it can be deduced that soils in urban areas are generally contaminated with PFAS, without this being attributable to a specific source, the authorities explained. The stresses are often the legacy of decades of deposits of materials that decompose over time and release pollutants. In the vicinity of waste incineration plants, the pollution was not significantly different than outside the plants.

PFAS do not occur naturally in the environment and, depending on the substance, survive in the environment for several decades to centuries. In the process, they can accumulate more and more. The group of substances is estimated to include more than 10,000 different chemicals, many of which are highly toxic, especially to children's development. PFAS are suspected of causing liver damage as well as kidney and testicular cancer, among other things.

Due to their unique characteristics, the substances are used in a large number of industrial products and everyday objects – from anoraks to pans to cosmetics. In the European Union, a possible ban on PFAS is being discussed, with some exceptions. Industry associations warn that this would be a threat to high-tech industries.