Lead Week, 2 #Pbweekmia

800px-7.5_CartridgesThis is Lead Week on this blog.







Some background:


Lead is a poison.

We have removed lead from paints, water pipes, fishing weights, and most significantly from petrol.  All of these changes were opposed by vested interests at the time and no-one is asking for those changes to be reversed these days (see here, here, here, here)

There is amazingly good evidence that removing lead from the environment reduces aggression in human societies (see also here, here, here).

Young children and foetuses are particularly susceptible to the impacts of lead (here, here).

Symptoms of high lead levels are various.

Consumption of one game meat meal per fortnight (of small game such as pheasants, grouse, pigeons, partridges, shot with lead shot) will reduce child IQ by 1 point.

The Food Standards Agency describe ‘occasional consumption of lead-shot game birds’ that would have minimal effect on overall exposure to lead as being ‘about twice a year’ (see here and here).

Ingestion of spent lead ammunition poisons c73,000 wildfowl in the UK each winter and it’s not a nice way to go.

An expert group, whose existence is partly down to me when I worked at the RSPB, and on which I sat until I left the RSPB, has produced a report whose findings have been in the public domain for months, even though Defra is mysteriously sitting on the actual report. The findings of that group recommend that lead ammunition should be phased out as:

  • Safer alternatives to lead ammunition are now available and being improved and adapted all the time for use in different shooting disciplines. There is considerable experience from other countries where change has already been undertaken.
  • There is no evidence to suggest that a phase out of lead ammunition and the use of alternatives would have significant drawbacks for wildlife or human health or, at least, none that carry the same scale of risks as continuing use of lead; though there are procedural, technical and R&D issues still to work on and resolve.
  • There is no convincing evidence on which to conclude that other options, short of replacement of lead ammunition, will address known risks to human health, especially child health

The UK government agreed at an international meeting in Quito in autumn 2014 to phase out the use of lead ammunition in three years – and has, as yet, not done a thing.

Countries such as Denmark banned the use of lead ammunition a couple of decades ago – shooters wouldn’t want it back.

There are no real problems for shooters in switching to ammunition which is non-toxic and which avoids all these harmful impacts.


Banning lead ammunition isn’t difficult – lots of countries, and states in the USA, have done it.

Banning lead isn’t banning shooting – it’s banning poisoning our environment and our food.

Defra is sitting on a scientific report which comes to the conclusion that lead ammunition should be banned and has been inactive for over seven months. This is a scandal.



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8 Replies to “Lead Week, 2 #Pbweekmia”

  1. Regarding reduced aggression, wouldn't it be good if banning lead ammunition also reduced wildlife crime. Worth a try.

  2. "Consumption of one game meat meal per fortnight ... will reduce child IQ by 1 point."

    What will the child's IQ be after 4 years of this regime?

    1. Well I don't think they are saying an IQ point lost per fortnight. As the paper in question is behind a paywall and the abstract doesn't indicate over how long a period the level of consumption would need to be maintained in order to see the effect it is not clear what the answer to your question might be.

  3. "Lead Ammunition, Wildlife & Human Health". The covering letter is available via your link, but the drop box folder link in the letter indicates that the folder is empty, so ....

    Perhaps readers might like to consider requesting it through FoI, made easy by the excellent site Whatdothey know https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/ ? The beauty of WDTK is that it is open & transparent and visible to all - another reason perhaps why government seek to close down accessible FoI?

    The more folk requesting it, the more the profile of defra is raised and along with why it has not released it given that government departments always act in the public interest?

  4. Have you seen this article on toxic paint levels in playgrounds, released today? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35383057 Unbelievable that there is any resistance to ban lead ammunition.

  5. There is a simple reason for the refusal to ban lead shot.

    The upper echelons of the Establishment shoot with fine old English Shotguns made by the likes of Purdey, and Holland and Holland. New, a pair of these shotguns costs the price of a normal house. The older ones can be even more valuable. Our most senior titled landowners use and own these fine old shotguns, which are passed down as heirlooms. However, they are only safe to be used with lead shot. Unlike modern shotguns they are not safe to use with alternatives to lead.

    This is the sole reason why there is a stubborn refusal to ban lead, because it would upset the Royal Family and the Aristocracy. This is how fake our democracy is. If just a handful of the Establishment don't want something, then no matter how much it is in the public interest to ban it, this ban will not happen - simply because of the stubbornness of just a few people. They could just retire these shotguns, and use modern ones. But just because these snobs consider it beneath them to change their ways, it continues.

    As Mark rightly points out things like lead fishing weights were banned within a couple of years of the evidence that they were harmful to waterfowl. being know. But bizarrely it is perfectly okay to keep on spraying huge amounts of toxic lead shot all over the countryside, just because a few very powerful people want to carry on using their pair of Purdey shotguns left to them by daddy.

    There is no other reason for this refusal to ban lead shot. Lead shot has been banned in other countries. But then their Establishments aren't run by a stubborn old aristocracy who always get their own way. Our system is rotten to the very core. It is a fake democracy where a privileged few always get their own way, because our system has loaded dice.


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