Lead has been known to be highly toxic for more than 2,000 years. Its use in water pipes, cosmetics, pottery and food is suspected to have been a contributing factor in the collapse of the Roman Empire. It is dangerous even at low levels; exposure can cause death or severe health effects, from acute, paralytic poisoning and seizures to subtle, long-term mental impairment, miscarriage, neurological damage, impotence or impaired reproduction and growth inhibition.
In recent decades, the federal government has implemented regulations to reduce human lead exposure in drinking water, batteries, paint, gasoline, toys, toxic dumps, wheel balancing weights and shooting ranges.
The same approach needs to be taken to protect our wildlife. At least 75 wild bird species are poisoned by spent lead ammunition, including bald eagles, golden eagles, ravens and endangered California condors. Despite being banned in 1992 for hunting waterfowl, spent lead shotgun pellets continue to be frequently ingested by swans, cranes, ducks, geese, loons and other waterfowl. Many birds also consume lead-based fishing tackle lost in lakes and rivers, often with deadly consequences.
Lead ammunition also poses health risks to people when bullets fragment in shot game spread throughout the meat that humans eat. Studies using radiographs show that numerous imperceptible, dust-sized particles of lead can infect meat up to a foot and a half away from the bullet wound, causing a greater health risk to humans who consume lead-shot game than previously thought. State health agencies have had to recall venison donated to feed the hungry because of lead contamination. Nearly 10 million hunters, their families and low-income beneficiaries of venison donations may be at risk.
In denying a 2010 lead ban petition, the EPA claimed it lacked authority to regulate toxic lead bullets and shot under the Toxic Substances Control Act, which controls manufacture, processing and distribution of dangerous chemicals in the United States, including lead. Yet congressional documents and the language of the Act explicitly contradict the agency’s claim. The House of Representatives’ report on the history and intent of the Act states it does not exclude from regulation under the bill chemical components of ammunition which could be hazardous because of their chemical properties.
EPA clearly has the authority to regulate lead ammunition. For the sake of wildlife and public health, it’s time to make that happen — please sign the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition today.
Read more: animal welfare, animals, birds, bullets, civil rights, clean water, endangered species, environment & wildlife, environmental protection agency, guns, health, health policy, hunting, lead, lead poisoning, politics, water, wildlife
Trumpeter Swan photo courtesy Flickr Creative Commons/Paruula
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.