Lead is a non-threshold poison. There is no safe level.
Over 20,000 tonnes of lead ammunition, mainly gunshot, are irretrievably released into the European environment every year, creating an ever-increasing toxic legacy. Over decades pellets can degrade and contaminate soils, where the toxin leaches into waterways and poisons freshwater species such as fish.
The gunshot pellets are attractive to birds that eat seed or grit for digesting their food. One million waterbirds alone die every year in Europe from the poisoning this causes. Lead affects all the major body systems – affected animals may show signs of weakness, inability to fly and leg paralysis. Therefore, untold numbers more die as a result of it affecting their ability to find food or evade predators. Predators and scavengers are exposed to poisoned birds and ammunition fragments in the flesh of hunted animals, so the poisoning moves further up the food chain.
For people eating game meat shot with lead, the fragments and particles of lead create levels of the toxin which would never be allowed in other meats. Food safety agencies warn of the effects to children and pregnant women primarily due to lead’s neurotoxic effects, and warn of the dangers of frequent consumption of game meat with impacts including kidney disease and increased blood pressure.
Domestic animals grazing on land contaminated by gunshot can result in loss of animals, economic impacts to farmers and food safety issues. Cases includes serious incidents in poultry and domestic ducks and deaths of cattle.
The science is undeniable.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence of the toxic effects of lead ammunition on our health. Dozens of European and other scientists, medics and veterinary health professionals have written open letters and consensus statements on this.
Hunters do not need to stop what they are doing, they just need to change their ammunition.