Sources of Lead

-Lead Ammunition

-Lead Fishing Lures and Sinkers

-Coal Ash and Industrial Waste

-Toys, jewelry, paint, old pipes        

-Naturally occurring lead


Lead Exposure and Human Health

-Exposure to lead over 15ppb (parts per billion) can affect the nervous and reproductive systems, cause muscle and joint pain, and damage the brain. Exposure to lower levels still has an effect, though not as prominent or threatening.

-Exposure to fetuses and children can cause long term damage to the central nervous system, impairing intelligence, reaction time, visual-motor integration, fine motor skills, and ability to pay attention.

-Humans who frequently consume game meat shot with lead ammunition are at risk for lead poisoning, even after removing the shot from game.


Lead Exposure and the Environment

-Soil contamination with lead can affect soil absorbency, leading to leaching and water contamination.

-Birds that use grit to digest food (small stones and sand that grind food before it enters the stomach) mistake lead shot and fishing lures/sinkers for small stones or food, resulting in direct exposure. This is particularly prominent in waterfowl.

-Raptors eat “pest” carcasses such as squirrels and rabbits that have been exterminated with lead shot, or unretrieved large game shot with lead, such as deer, poisoning the scavenger.

-Raptors eat fish whose tissue has become contaminated by lead in the water and become poisoned.

-In birds lead has been known to lead to a distended proventriculus (portion of a bird’s stomach), green watery feces, weight loss, anemia, drooping posture, convulsions, paralysis, deterioration of the brain, eyes, kidneys, and liver, or death. 

-In Birds, lead in the blood takes two weeks before only 50% remains, lead in the liver and kidneys can remain in high concentrations for weeks to several months, and lead in bone can remain in high concentrations for months to years.  

Preventing Lead Exposure: Legislation

-Federal Law mandates (since 1991) that non-toxic shot be used in hunting waterfowl, but not in shooting ranges or for non-waterfowl game.

-In 2005, the EPA created the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan, which requires more data collection, research, and analysis. Stakeholders are expected to have greater involvement, and if water bodies contain over 15ppb of lead, public education programs must be held.

-New York currently has no bans on using Lead Shot for recreational shooting or game other than waterfowl.

-In 2012, a petition was sent to the EPA requesting greater regulation for lead shot and fishing tackle, but was rejected.





EPA. Best management practices for lead at outdoor shooting ranges. EPA. June 2005. July 27, 2007.

Johnansen, Poul; Pederson, Henning Sloth; Asmund, Gert; Riget, Frank. 2005. Lead Shot from      Hunting as a Source of Lead in Human Blood. Environmental Pollution Vol. 142. pp93-97. 

Kimmel, R., Tranel, M. 2007. Evidence of lead shot problem for wildlife, the environment, and   human health: Implication for Minnesota. National Wild Turkey Fund. N/A. July 14, 2013.

Pain, Deborah J; Fisher, Ian J; Thomas, Vernon G. 2009. A Global Update of Lead Poisoning in      Terrestrial Birds from Ammunition Sources. In Watson, R. T; Fuller, M; Pokras, M; Hunt, W. G. Ingestion of Lead from Spent Ammunition: Implications for Wildlife and Humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho.

Rooney, C. Contamination at shooting ranges. Lead group. July 19, 2013. June 14, 2013.