Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Deposition of absolute and relative airborne metals on eggshells: a field study


A biomonitoring field study was conducted to test the deposition of airborne metals on chicken eggshell. The goal was to correlate PM2.5 particle concentration in air, absolute (metals in air) and relative (metals in PM2.5 particles) metals, and metal accumulation on eggshell. The PM2.5 sample was collected for 8 h at different air pollution sites as well as an unpolluted site with glass fiber filters via a fine particulate sampler (with and without addition of eggshell). The PM2.5 particle concentration was high at a cement factory site and low at a sugar factory site. The highest absolute total mass of metal (total mass of all metals in air) was found in the traffic site, and the highest relative total mass of metal (total mass of all metals in PM2.5 particles) was found at the tannery factory. The accumulation of Zn and Pb in eggshell was high at the tannery and sugar factory sites, and Fe was high in the other areas. Three common metals including Cd, As, and Pb were found with significant positive correlation between absolute and relative metals with the metals accumulated in eggshell. The results concluded that the eggshells might be useful tools for monitoring the airborne metals.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1


  1. Abduljaleel SA, Shuhaimi-Othman M, Babji A (2011) Variation in trace elements levels among chicken, quail, guinea fowl and pigeon eggshell and egg content. Res J Environ Toxicol 5:301–308

  2. Abdul-Wahab SA (2006) Impact of fugitive dust emissions from cement plants on nearby communities. Ecol Model 195:338–348

  3. Awan MA, Ahmed SH, Aslam MR, Qazi IA (2011) Determination of total suspended particulate matter and heavy metals in ambient air of four cities of Pakistan. Iranica J Energy Environ 2:128–132

  4. Brait CHH, Filho NRA (2011) Use of feathers of feral pigeons (Columba livia) as a technique for metal quantification and environmental monitoring. Environ Monit Assess 179:457–467

  5. Burger J, Eichhorst B (2005) Heavy metals and selenium in grebe eggs from Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in northern Minnesota. Environ Monit Assess 107:285–295

  6. Chen L, Xu Z, Liu M, Huang Y, Fan R, Su Y, Hu G, Peng X, Peng X (2012) Lead exposure assessment from study near a lead-acid battery factory in China. Sci Total Environ 429:191–198

  7. Dauwe T, Jannsens E, Bervoets L, Blust R, Eens M (2004) Relationships between metal concentrations in great tit nestlings and their environment and food. Environ Pollut 131:373–380

  8. Dev B, Gupta A, Bhattacharjee PC (2010) Heavy metals in egg shells of six species of Ardeidae (Aves) from Barak Valley, Assam. Assam Uni J Sci Technol Biol Environ Sci 5:48–52

  9. Drobyshev AI, Emelina OI (2001) Analysis of atmospheric aerosols by atomic emission spectroscopy with electrical discharge sampling. J Anal Chem 56:577–580

  10. EU Commission (2013) Best Available Techniques (BAT) reference document for the production of cement. Lime and Magnesium Oxide, Seville

  11. Fakayode SO, Olu-Owolabi IB (2003) Trace metal content and estimated daily human intake from chicken eggs in Ibadan, Nigeria. Arch Environ Health 58:245–251

  12. Furness RW (1996) Cadmium in birds. In: Beyer WN, Heinz SH, Redmon-Norwood AW (eds) Environmental contaminants in wildlife. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, pp 389–404

  13. Gupta RK, Majumdar D, Trivedi JV, Bhanarkar AD (2012) Particulate matter and elemental emissions from a cement kiln. Fuel Process Technol 104:343–351

  14. Ikemoto T, Kunito T, Tanabe S, Tsurumi M, Sato F, Oka N (2005) Non-destructive monitoring of trace element levels in short-tailed albatrosses (Phoebastria albatrus) and black-footed albatrosses (Phoebastria nigripes) from Torishima Island, Japan using eggs and blood. Mar Pollut Bull 51:889–895

  15. Janssens E, Dauwe T, Pinxten R, Bervoets L, Blust R, Eens M (2003) Effects of heavy metal exposure on the condition and health of nestlings of the great tit (Parus major), a small songbird species. Environ Pollut 126:267–274

  16. Karl XY, Swami K, Liaquat H (2002) Determination of trace metals in atmospheric aerosols with a heavy matrix of cellulose by microwave digestion-inductively coupled plasma mass spectroscopy. Spectrochim Acta 57:73–84

  17. Khillare PS, Balachandran S, Bharat RM (2004) Special and temporal variation of heavy metal in atmospheric aerosol of Delhi. Environ Monit Assess 90:1–21

  18. Kim J, Oh JM (2013) Assessment of trace metals in four bird species from Korea. Environ Monit Assess 185:6847–6854

  19. Kim J, Oh JM (2014) Trace element concentrations in eggshells and egg contents of black-tailed gull (Larus crassirostris) from Korea. Ecotoxicology 23:1147–1152

  20. Kim J, Shin JR, Koo TK (2009) Heavy metal distribution in some wild birds from Korea. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 56:317–324

  21. Luo J, Ye Y, Gao Z, Wang W (2016) Trace element enrichment in the eggshells of Grus japonensis and its association with eggshell thinning in Zhalong Wetland (Northeastern China). Biologia 71:220–227

  22. Manno E, Varrica D, Dongarra G (2006) Metal distribution in road dust samples collected in an urban area close to a petrochemical plant at Gela, Sicily. Atmos Environ 40:5929–5941

  23. Mari M, Nadal M, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JL (2009) Exposure to heavy metals and PCDD/Fs by the population living in the vicinity of a hazardous waste landfill in Catalonia, Spain: health risk assessment. Environ Int 35:1034–1039

  24. Mohanraj R, Solaraj G, Dhanakumar S (2011) PM 2.5 and PAH concentrations in urban atmosphere of Tiruchirappalli, India. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 87:330–335

  25. Mora MA (2003) Heavy metals and metalloids in egg contents and eggshells of passerine birds from Arizona. Environ Pollut 125:393–400

  26. Moreno-Grau S, Tornell A, Bayo J, Moreno J, Angosto JM, Moreno-Clavel J (2000) Particulate matter and heavy metals in the atmospheric aerosol from Cartagena, Spain. Atmos Environ 34:5161–5167

  27. Nisianakis P, Giannenas I, Gavriil A, Kontopidis G, Kyriazakis I (2009) Variation in trace element contents among chicken, turkey, duck, goose, and pigeon eggs analyzed by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Biol Trace Elem Res 128:62–71

  28. Ogunkunle CO, Fatoba PO (2014) Contamination and spatial distribution of heavy metals in topsoil surrounding a mega cement factory. Atmos Pollut Res 5:270–282

  29. Onder S, Dursun S (2006) Air borne heavy metal pollution of Cedrus libani (A. Rich.) in the city centre of Konya (Turkey). Atmos Environ 40:1122–1133

  30. Onianwa PC, Fakayode SO (2000) Lead contamination of topsoil and vegetation in the vicinity of a battery factory in Nigeria. Environ Geochem Health 22:211–218

  31. Ping T, Youcai Z, Fengyi X (2008) Thermal behaviors and heavy metal vaporization of phosphatized tannery sludge in incineration process. J Environ Sci 20:1146–1152

  32. Rovira J, Nadal M, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JL (2014) Environmental levels of PCDD/Fs and metals around a cement plant in Catalonia, Spain, before and after alternative fuel implementation. Assessment of human health risks. Sci Total Environ 485-486:121–129

  33. Rovira J, Mari M, Nadal M, Schuhmacher M, Domingo JL (2011) Use of sewage sludge as secondary fuel in a cement plant: human health risks. Environ Int 37:105–111

  34. Ruuskanen S, Laaksonen T, Morales J, Moreno J, Mateo R, Belskii E, Bushuev A, Jarvinen A, Kerimov A, Krams I, Morosinotto C, Mand R, Orell M, Qvarnstrom A, Slater F, Tilgar V, Visser ME, Winkel W, Zang H, Eeva T (2014) Large-scale geographical variation in eggshell metal and calcium content in a passerine bird (Ficedula hypoleuca). Environ Sci Pollut Res Int 21:3304–3317

  35. Sanchez-Soberon F, Rovira J, Mari M, Sierra J, Nadal M, Domingo JL, Schuhmacher M (2015) Main components and human health risks assessment of PM10, PM2.5, and PM1 in two areas influenced by cement plants. Atmos Environ 120:109–116

  36. Silvia MS, Annibal DPNAD, Pereira N, Emmanoel VSF, Martha TA (2004) Short-term and spatial variation of selected metals in the atmosphere of Niteroi City, Brazil. Microchem J 78:85–90

  37. Van Overmeire I, Pussemier L, Hanot V, De Temmerman L, Hoenig M, Goeyens L (2006) Chemical contamination of free-range eggs from Belgium. Food Addit Contam 23:1109–1122

  38. Zhang Y, Ji X, Ku T, Li G, Sang N (2016) Heavy metals bound to fine particulate matter from northern China induce season-dependent health risks: a study based on myocardial toxicity. Environ Pollut 216:380–390

Download references


This work was supported by a 2-year grant of Pusan National University.

Author information

Correspondence to Sivakumar Subpiramaniyam.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Subpiramaniyam, S., Kaliannan, T. & Piruthiviraj, P. Deposition of absolute and relative airborne metals on eggshells: a field study. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 2313–2319 (2018).

Download citation


  • Eggshell
  • Airborne metals
  • PM2.5 particles
  • Polluted sites
  • Correlation