Egg flip-out

CHRISTINE FARRELL has thrown out a warning to chicken lovers in White Gum Valley; toxicity tests have shown her Rhode Island Reds had been scratching around in toxic soil and she’s had to get rid of them.

Ms Farrell said after her daughter-in-law recommended she get her chickens’ eggs tested, she was alarmed to discover they contained high levels of the now-banned pesticide dieldrin and says others keeping backyard coops should be wary.

The dieldrin came up at 0.17 parts per million in the eggs, while the health department says chickens shouldn’t be laying anything over 0.1ppm.

• Christine Farrell with her chook. Photo by David Bell

• Christine Farrell with her chook. Photo by David Bell


Ms Farrell, who lives in Elizabeth Street, says much of White Gum Valley probably has raised levels of dieldrin because it was used for dairy farming until the 1950s and 60s, and farmers spread it liberally until its banning in the early 1980s.

“The thing about the eggs is that those heavy chemicals go into the food and vegies,” Ms Farrell says.

She bought her chickens like many others because she wanted to have healthy, free range eggs and was alarmed to find that her soil was poisoning her chickens and herself.

Ms Farrell said she did some background research and found there were ways to clean up the soil and protect chickens, but it was too expensive and onerous, so she sent her brood off to a safe home out of the suburbs.

Dieldrin was predominantly used for getting rid of argentine ants, termites and other soil-based insects that could affect crops.

During the 60s it was against the law not to spray wooden structures with dieldrin and because of the amount of wooden structures used in market gardening there is a lot of dieldrin left in the Fremantle area says Anita James, a biosecurity officer for the Department of Agriculture and Food.

The health department says soil can have up to 6 parts per million of dieldrin in residential areas before it becomes a problem.


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