Ascorbic acid reduces lead levels in broiler chicken blood and eggs
Publication Type
Conference Paper

Farm hens are susceptible to lead intoxication once inhaled or ingested a concentrated source of lead. Lead contamination of edible egg yolk and albumen represents a potential health hazard. The present study was conducted to investigate if ascorbic acid treatment can reduce the levels of lead in chicken blood and eggs after exposure to a concentrated source of lead. The study was conducted on ten clinically normal mixed-breed adult laying hens. Hens were individually housed in cages. Blood and egg samples were collected to determine the baseline lead level before the study. Hens were divided into 3 groups (G1-G3). G1 (n=2) was the control group. G2 and G3 (each n=4) received lead acetate (200 mg/kg/day) mixed with food and water for 1 week. At the end of week 1, blood and eggs were collected. Following week 1, G2 received ascorbic acid (200 mg/kg/day) treatment for 4 weeks while G3 did not received any treatment during the 4 weeks period. At the end of week 4, blood and eggs were again collected. Egg samples were separated into albumen, yolk, and shell which were analyzed separately. All blood and egg samples were analyzed for lead contents using graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. At the end of the lead acetate treatment (week 1) and after subtracting the baseline level, the mean blood lead level was 2678 µg/mL (SD ±576). Lead levels reached 96 µg/kg, 26 µg/kg, and 85 µg/kg in egg albumen, yolk and shell, respectively. Interestingly, treatment with ascorbic acid for 4 weeks significantly reduced the blood lead level to 37 µg/mL (SD ±36) (p<0.001). Similarly, ascorbic acid treatment reduced the albumen lead level by 3.5-fold and the shell lead level by about 2-fold. Conversely, no observable change was noted in the level of lead in the yolk. Our findings were in line with previous reported results. In conclusion, chicken eggs can contain comparatively high levels of lead once hens ingested a concentrated source of lead. Ascorbic acid can deplete lead levels in chicken blood and eggs after long term treatment. It is recommended to supplement chicken food with ascorbic acid.

Conference Title
5th PFMR Biomedical Research Symposium
Conference Country
Conference Date
Dec. 4, 2014 - Dec. 4, 2014
Conference Sponsor
Birzeit University
Additional Info
Conference Website