What it contains

In 2018, EPA completed a study of trace elements, such as lead and arsenic, in waterfowl from 19 sites across Victoria. The sample sites were a range of popular recreational hunting locations in wetlands, rivers and lakes.  

EPA’s study analysed the edible parts of four duck species to help us learn more about contaminants in the environment and their transfer into food systems. We wanted to assess whether the presence of any identified contaminants posed a potential risk to human health.  

What we found 

We tested Chestnut Teals, Grey Teals, Pacific Black, and Pink-eared ducks for eight common trace element contaminants - arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, and zinc. We selected these elements because they have the potential to cause harm if they are ingested in large quantities.  

In general, trace element levels were found not to pose a significant concern for healthy adults who consume wild duck in standard portion sizes (for a 200 grams of breast meat or 100g of liver for an adult weighing 70 kilos).  

As expected, detected trace elements were higher in duck livers but still pose no significant concern for adults.  

What this means 

The existence of contaminants in waterfowl does not necessarily mean there are human health risks. A healthy adult eating a standard portion size of wild duck breast meat or liver is unlikely to be at risk. It is advisable to stick to standard portion sizes.  

Children and individuals with unique health circumstances should be careful and speak with their health care professional about any concerns.  
Target audience
Local community
Publication number
Number of pages
Release date
27 April 2023
Reading level
Grade 4
Document version

Reviewed 27 April 2023