Research Indicates No Lead Threat In Hunted Game

on . Posted in Latest News has previously reported that proponents of AB 711 have been searching for a way to justify bypassing oversight by the California Fish & Game Commission and to accelerate support in the legislature for a law that would impose a lead ammunition ban on all hunting in California. Lead ammunition ban proponents are making the unverified claim that there is a human health risk from consuming game meat harvested with lead ammunition. Now, in addition to already existing research to the contrary, new research  confirms earlier reports from the Hunt For Truth Association that lead in game meat does not present a human health hazard.

In a new study out of Nuremberg, Germany, the bioaccessible component of lead fragments in the gastrointestinal tract were found to be insignificant from a health perspective. The metallic lead used in lead ammunition even in a finely divided form, cannot, if ingested be absorbed directly into the body’s organs,  tissues, blood & bone. For more information on pathways of exposure read more here .

This finding is consistent with a study in 2008 conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study compared blood-lead levels of North Dakotans that consumed game meat harvest with lead ammunition and blood-lead levels of North Dakotans that did not eat game meat.  After taking blood samples from over 700 hunters and non-hunters, the CDC evaluated the effect of consuming varying amounts of game meat and its correlation to blood-lead levels.

The 2008 CDC report claimed that hunters who consumed game meat as a significant portion of their diet exhibited, on the average, nearly imperceptibly elevated blood-lead levels (0.30ug/dl) compared to the non-game consuming control group.  This slight difference between the hunters’ blood-lead levels and those of the non-hunters’ is statistically insignificant. Most importantly, the CDC report also revealed that the hunters’ blood-lead levels were significantly less than the levels found in the average American.

Despite the robust debate concerning human exposure to lead toxicity from lead ammunition, there has been no clear evidence that the consumption of game meat has ever caused lead poisoning in humans.  All doctors are required to report cases of lead poisoning to their state health agencies and to the Center for Disease Control, yet, no cases have ever been traced to wild game meat. In fact, numerous state agencies have concluded after reviewing the research that there is not sufficient evidence to support claims of lead toxicity in humans and have published statements notifying hunters that game meat is safe to eat (See below for reference).

The recent use of claims regarding human health risks have been inserted into the debate in order to impact the perception of lead-based ammunition and justify lead ban proponents’ circumvention of the Fish & Game Commission, where the science regarding the use of lead ammunition was carefully being examined.  Significantly, AB 711 proponents did not raise human health risks with the Commission as a reason for banning lead ammunition for hunting in California.  Instead, they argued that condors were being poisoned by hunters’ lead ammunition.  By changing the narrative from a threat to wildlife to a threat to humans, lead ban proponents seek to avoid the recent scrutiny and criticism of the faulty science behind AB 711, and to obfuscate their obvious attempt to pass a bill in the legislature without the Commission first critically analyzing the truth behind their claims.


Nuremberg Study, March 7, 2013

CDC Study

New York State Dept of Environmental Conservation

North Dakota Dept. of Health, Agriculture and Game and Fish

Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources

Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources

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