By Dr. Birgit Puschner, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and
Maurice Pitesky, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine-Cooperative Extension
In addition to all the destruction and inhalation of smoke associated with the recent fires in Northern California, one of the unfortunate legacies remaining are chemical contamination of land, soil and water. The wildfire debris can include household hazardous waste (e.g. batteries and other electronic waste, paints, flammable liquids), building material (e.g. stucco, sheetrock, joint compound, asbestos siding and pipe insulation), pesticides, and fire suppression chemicals that may have been used. For example, ash debris from the California wildfires from 2007 was found to contain heavy metals that could cause long term health effects with exposure at high levels.
Backyard chickens typically live off the soil and hence are at risk for exposure to some of the chemicals in the debris. Since backyard chickens are food animals with respect to egg and meat production, there is a risk that some of these substances may be ingested by chickens and deposited inside eggs which are then laid by the chickens.
Unfortunately, there is limited scientific data on this issue. To that point there are no controlled studies, to our knowledge, that have assessed whether many of these chemicals can be found in eggs following ingestion by chickens. In addition, withdrawal periods following exposure are also not understood.
What can you do?
The concern to human health is with respect to the consumption of eggs and poultry meat from chickens exposed to the above listed toxic debris as a result of the recent fires. Out of an abundance of caution: if you know or suspect that your birds were foraging in burnt areas, we recommend not eating eggs from those hens for the remainder of their life.
In addition, in order to better understand the chemical contamination of eggs from hens living in areas impacted by wildfires we encourage people in affected areas to submit eggs to UC Davis for testing. Testing costs will be free.
For submission, please mail up to 6 eggs overnight to the following address:
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Attn: Dr. Maurice Pitesky
1 Shields Drive
VM 3B Room 4007
Davis, CA 95616
Please include the following information:
- Contact information
- Address where birds are located
- Number of birds in your flock
- Author: Mimi M Enright
Air quality in Sonoma County has been significantly impacted by the fires that spread through the region. The full scope of the air contamination is still unknown, but likely includes high concentrations of likely carcinogens including heavy metals, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
There is limited research on the impact of smoke from a wildfire in a wildland urban interface on produce safety. UCCE Sonoma is partnering with Vanessa Raditz, who was working with community organizations on emergency food relief during the crisis, to develop a Citizen Science project to assess the impact of the air pollution from the wildfire on produce. During the crisis Vanessa, who has a Master's degree in Public Health from UC Berkeley, began quickly developing a partnership with members of the community and UCCE Sonoma to gather samples and seek funding for testing and education on this topic.
Master Gardeners and other concerned community members were trained to collect samples from local farms and gardens of washed and unwashed produce, each in triplicate, to determine if contaminants can be easily washed off produce, or whether it has been taken up in plant tissue. Volunteers focused on kale, collards, chard, and lettuce, as these leaves are directly exposed to air pollution. Vanessa scheduled volunteer training at Bayer Farm, Harvest for the Hungry and Petaluma Bounty, and samples were taken from 10/19-22. Time was of the essence to gather samples which are all being frozen. Now we turn to find partners to find funding for the testing and develop an educational outreach program when results are received.
Visit Disaster Recovery to learn more.
- Author: Karen Giovannini
Celebrating National 4-H Week for the 75th consecutive year, Sonoma County 4-H program was presented with a Gold Resolution at the Oct 2 Board of Supervisors meeting.
"4-H is deserving of public recognition for its distinguished record of helping young people become healthy, happy, and thriving citizens who make a positive difference in their communities... the Board of Supervisors hereby proclaims October 1-7, 2017 as National 40H Week in Sonoma County."
The Sonoma County 4-H program, established in 1926, helps young people, ages 5-19, reach their fullest potential as competent, confident individuals who contribute to and are connected with their communities.
Now is the time to Join!
4-H alumni around the country are always the first to acknowledge the significant positive impact 4-H had on them as young people; the opportunities and experiences that 4-H provides youth empowers them to become true leaders. In fact, research has shown that young people in 4-H are almost four times as likely to contribute to their communities, and are twice as likely to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in their free time.
4-H, the nation's largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities right now. In the United States, 4-H programs empower six million young people through the 110 land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension in more than 3,000 local offices serving every county and parish in the country. Outside the United States, independent, country-led 4-H organizations empower one million young people in more than 50 countries.
National 4-H Council is the private sector, non-profit partner of the Cooperative Extension System and 4-H National Headquarters located at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)./table>
- Author: Julia Van Soelen Kim
50 food and agriculture leaders from Sonoma County and the North Bay gathered on June 8, 2017 in Petaluma for the North Bay Food Policy Council Convening. Participants represented the Sonoma Food System Alliance and three North Bay food policy councils. Food Policy Councils are multi-stakeholder coalitions that work on devising local level solutions to nutrition, agriculture, and food systems issues.
Participants shared highlights of their work across the region, exchanged best practices and success stories, built skills in local policy advocacy, and sparked greater regional coordination between food policy councils. The event was hosted by North Bay Food Systems Advisor, Julia Van Soelen Kim, and UC Cooperative Extension. Based on the success of the event, it will likely be offered again in spring 2018.
For more information, contact Julia Van Soelen Kim, North Bay Food Systems Advisor
Drs. Alda Pires and Maurice Pitesky, along with PhD epidemiology student Laura Patterson, from UC Davis joined with Dr. Stephanie Larson, Director of UCCE Sonoma County, to present a seminar titled “Farming 101: Diversified Crop and Livestock Farming” at the UCCE office in Santa Rosa. About 30 small-scale diversified farmers with diverse livestock (e.g., sheep, goats, poultry, pig, rabbits and cattle) and crops (e.g., vegetables, fruit trees, wine grapes) attended the event.
Dr. Pitesky provided information on pastured poultry and biosecurity practices that are important to reduce the risk of avian influenza outbreaks.
Dr. Larson discussed pastured swine practices and opportunities for NRCS funding.
Dr. Pires gave a presentation on food safety risks and animal health considerations for integrated crop-livestock and diversified farms, including information about specific food borne pathogens (e.g., Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7) and parasite management.
PhD student Laura Patterson discussed research updates about a small-scale farm study as well as
Information about upcoming UCCE Sonoma County workshops can be found on our calendar.