The transfer of environmental contaminants (brominated and chlorinated dioxins and biphenyls, PBDEs, HBCDDs, PCNs and PFAS) from recycled materials used for bedding to the eggs and tissues of chickens

Alwyn R. Fernandes, Iain Lake, Alan Dowding, Martin Rose, Natalia Jones, Frankie Smith, Sean Panton

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Some types of poultry bedding made from recycled materials have been reported to contain environmental contaminants such as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (PCDD/Fs, dioxins), polychlorinated biphenyls
(PCBs) brominated flame retardants (BFRs) polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), polybrominated dioxins (PBDD/Fs), perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), etc. In one of the first studies of its kind, the uptake of these contaminants by chicken muscle tissue, liver, and eggs from three types of recycled, commercially available bedding material was simultaneously investigated using conventional husbandry to raise day old chickens to maturity. A weight of evidence analysis showed that PCBs, polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs), PCDD/Fs, PCNs and PFAS displayed the highest potential for uptake which varied depending on the type of bedding material used. During the first three to four months of laying, an increasing trend was observed in the concentrations of ΣTEQ (summed toxic equivalence of PCDD/Fs, PCBs, PBDD/Fs, PCNs and polybrominated biphenyls), NDL-PCBs and PBDEs in the eggs of chickens raised on shredded cardboard. Further analysis using bio-transfer factors (BTFs) when egg production reached a steady state, revealed that some PCB congeners (PCBs 28, 81, 138, 153 and 180) irrespective of molecular configuration or chlorine number, showed the highest tendency for uptake. Conversely, BTFs for PBDEs showed good correlation with bromine number, increasing to a maximum value for BDE-209. This relationship was reversed for PCDFs (and to some extent for PCDDs) with tetra- and penta- chlorinated congeners showing a greater tendency for selective uptake. The overall patterns were consistent, although some variability in BTF values was observed between tested materials which may relate to differences in bioavailability. The results indicate a potentially overlooked source of food chain contamination as other livestock products (cow's milk, lamb, beef, duck, etc.) could be similarly impacted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number164441
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date26 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2023

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