Norwegian blues over lead

800px-7.5_CartridgesYou may remember that I said I’d come back to Tim Bonner’s thoughts, in a Huffington Post blog, on Norwegian lead levels in meat.


This is what I wrote:

Much is made of the partial reversal of the ban of lead ammunition in Norway. Bonner says that lead is still banned for use in wetlands and for clay shooting in Norway – as it is – that’s for most users. This reversal was achieved by ‘Norwegian Bonners’ – the hunting lobby. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it was sensible – in fact my rule of thumb is that anything the Countryside Alliance says needs checking carefully. Might it not be that Norwegian Bonners pressurised the Norwegian government into making a bad decision? We’ll come back to that fairly soon and to Bonner’s suggestion that ‘What matters is risk management. The idea of a risk assessment is not to eliminate the risk but to reduce it to an acceptable level‘.  Remember that quote! Actually you don’t have to – I’ll remind you of it.

OK – this is me reminding you of it.

In the Oxford Lead Symposium , published today, four members of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Helle K. Knutsen, Anne-Lise Brantsæter, Jan Alexander & Helle M. Meltzer) write about the levels of lead in moose meat, and the levels of lead in people who eat moose meat in Norway.

VKM [the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety] concluded that the blood lead concentrations measured in participants in the Norwegian population studies were in the range of, and partly exceeding, the reference values for increased risk of high blood pressure and increased prevalence of chronic kidney disease in adults, and for neurodevelopmental effects in children. The additional lead exposure from cervid meat in frequent (monthly or more often) consumers of such meat is therefore of concern. For these reasons, continued efforts are needed to reduce lead exposure in the population.‘.

Lead levels in the human population of Norway worry Norwegian health experts. Those people eating deer meat at least monthly had blood lead levels 31% higher than those who ate less deer meat and many of the monthly deer meat eaters had blood lead levels well above the thresholds for increased prevalence of chronic kidney disease.

When shooters say that no-one dies of lead poisoning then they know, or should know, that that is like saying no-one dies of alcohol poisoning in a car so we shouldn’t ban drink driving. It doesn’t work like that, and they know it or should know it. Increased lead levels are an unnecessary health risk imposed on unknowing parts of society by shooters who won’t pay a little more for their sport. That’s not very sporting of them is it?

So, Rory Stewart and Defra – get on with it!  For heaven’s sake what’s the delay about? This is a simple health issue, wildlife and human health, with a very simple solution.

Please sign the Rob Sheldon’s e-petition to ban lead ammunition.


3 Replies to “Norwegian blues over lead”

  1. The lead issue has seemed like an easy win to me for those involved in shooting, they can make a positive impact with very little effort, showing owning the issue and showing responsibility and a degree of self governance.
    The inability or unwillingness to accept that this is necessary really leaves little doubt that other issues (raptor persecution, illegal environmental damage etc) will not be resolved by discussion and working together.

  2. I am completely and genuinely bewildered that Rob’s petition has got so few signatures, relatively speaking. Why? Can anyone explain it? It seems like a complete no-brainer to me; compared with the (one would think?) probably far more controversial issue of banning driven grouse shooting. Still, the petition got mentioned on Linked In today, so maybe that will help.

    1. “a complete no-brainer”

      Undoubtedly. To contaminate land in perpetuity with a toxic heavy metal is dumb. I can’t get excited about the lead in food angle, though but. No-one forces anyone else to eat anything in particular, although there are food fascists who would like so to do. It’s the lead that misses the target that concerns me – which is most of it. If we can’t have a ban, we should at least insist that shooters are upskilled and only single bullets – .177 say – are allowed rather than the blunderbuss technology still favoured. This should also apply to clay pigeon shooting, both walked-up and driven, in which no shot is removed from the site to be fed to the poor children and all of which lies around in soil forever. Clay shooting grounds also have a legacy of high concentrations of polycondensed aromatic hydrocarbons such as 3,4-benzopyrene dispersed in fine particulate form so that animals feeding on the ground may ingest it along with other petrochemical resins, terpene resins, polyterpene resins, xylene resins, polystyrene and bakelite dust. All this must be true because I just read it in a patent application for biodegradable pigeons.

      Which brings me to the kernel of an idea: increase the span of contaminated land legislation to cover all shooting grounds (if not already included). This would involve not only lead but copper and zinc. It’s strict liability stuff, with cost implications of removing the contaminating material from the site. As that is more or less impossible the value of shooting grounds might be reduced to zilch at a stroke. It won’t bother me none as I have no interest in buying land to avoid inheritance tax for my offspring or using it as collateral. Job done!

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