Can pigeons help scientists detect lead poisoning?

People are concerned about lead poisoning due to undetected contamination. Now it looks like pigeons might be able to help humans. A new study published in the journal Chemosphere found that where children in certain New York City neighborhoods had elevated lead blood levels- so did the local pigeons.

If even a small amount of lead builds up in the body over a period of months or years, it can cause serious health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, children under the age of 6 are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because of how severely it can affect development. Lead-based paint and dust from old buildings are the most common way children- and birds, so it would seem, are exposed to it.

Using data from the NYC Health Department and The Wild Bird Fund, a nonprofit that rehabilitates birds, researchers determined that pigeons could one day be used to detect pollution in cities across the country. Pigeons are well-suited to this because they walk the same streets, breathe the same air, and basically eat the same food as urban dwellers- and they don't migrate, usually living their whole lives within the same square mile.

The press secretary for the health department said that the city already has a "robust" system for monitoring lead exposure, but the researchers are excited about the possibilities of someday using pigeons to monitor other heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins worldwide. 

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

WATCH FOX 7 NEWS LIVE

FOX 7 News streams at the following times (all times Central):


Monday - Friday

4:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.

12 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.

5 p.m. - 6 p.m.

9 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

Saturday

6 a.m. - 8 a.m.

6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Sunday

6 a.m. - 8 a.m.

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

9 p.m. to 10 p.m.



Schedule subject to change in the event of network sports coverage.

We also stream press conferences and other breaking news coverage from time to time. When we are not in a live newscast, you will see replays of the most recent broadcast.

To enter full screen Mode click the button.

For closed captioning, click on the button while in full screen mode.

Desktop/tablet users: To choose the stream's video quality, click on the button (while in full screen mode) and choose from 432p or 270p.

Mobile users:The video quality default is to your phone's settings.

Please allow time for buffering. If the stream stalls, refresh your browser. Thanks for watching

Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories