Question: Is there an unsafe level of lead in bone broth?
Original blog post title: “YES, there are high levels of lead in bone broth (and NO, it is not safe to ingest lead)!”
Answer: Maybe. [& most likely “yes”.]
There are several different studies to look at and different considerations to take into account when answering this question.
Unfortunately, more often than not “health-gurus” and “health bloggers” including some with MEDICAL credentials will (in their writing) attempt to diminish or discount the impact of the possible (and likely) concentrated levels of lead found in bone broth.
However there are some facts that just cannot be ignored when exploring this concern:
- Lead bio-mimics calcium when absorbed by natural structures.
- Bones are high in calcium.
- That is why bones are a storehouse for lead (in all animals).
- If an animal is exposed to lead in their environment then their bones will absorb and accumulate this lead in the place of calcium.
- This lead can come from many environmental sources (even in 2018):
- from feed (many documented sources for contamination here)
- from tractors and other farm vehicles’ exhaust (yes, many of these – legally – still use leaded fuel!)
- from soil (which can be contaminated with lead from historic leaded pesticide use, historic lead paint use on equipment and structures and related renovation/ sanding/ power washing, and historic and current leaded gasoline use]
- from both modern and legacy paint and industrial finishes on farm equipment and buildings (yep, lead still legal in lots of “non-residential” paint as well!)
- When you make broth from these bones or cartilage (vs. from the meat of the animal) – be it a chicken or a cow or a pig, you are using the most leaded part of the animal to make the broth.
- The broth, which is often simmered for hours or even days, will (by nature and design) pull all of the “nutrients” and “minerals” out of the bones and into the broth… and this includes lead.
There is no valid justification (not a single one) to intentionally concentrate lead in a single food source to add it to your diet. Just don’t do it.
Here are two ways to help make your sure your broth will likely have lower levels of lead:
- Make your broth out of the meat of the animal.
- Source your broth ingredients from known farms, farms where you have EVIDENCE that the farm does not use leaded gasoline (which, as stated above, is still legal to use in farm equipment) and does NOT have old lead painted farm buildings (it’s also perfectly legal for even organic farms to have old lead-painted buildings, vehicles, and industrial equipment!) and does NOT have soil that is lead contaminated from previous / legacy leaded pesticide use, and is NOT near a freeway or small airport that might have generated a lot of lead residue from leaded gasoline use [in the past for freeways and in the present for small airports (you guessed it – small planes still -legally- use leaded fuel!] that may have contaminated the soil.
The quote below is from the following article. (link here). In spite of this quote, this “health blogger” is still advocating for the use of bone broth as a healing substance!
These blogs are citing each other as “evidence” for disregarding the settled science in this matter!
Like with Earthpaste, these people are too passionate about the alleged health benefits of something, to even begin to realistically consider or assess the actual, scientifically measured, known health risks of that same thing. Their passion is blinding them to the truth.
Here’s someone who knows their stuff and has a blog! NutritionFacts.org
Watch this amazing video ^^^^
Here is the link to the actual 2013 bone broth study abstract:
Additional info for folks who question the presence of a concentration of lead in bones. There are many scientific journals and articles that discuss the fact that lead is concentrated in bones because lead bio-mimics calcium and bones are calcium-dense. [The articles have nothing to do with broth, but with bone development in biological structures – including animals … including chickens, cows and humans.] Here is one example that I found without to much googling:
From the book: “Fundamental Concepts of Environmental Chemistry” 
As always, please let me know if you have any questions!
Thank you for reading and for sharing.