Is lead used in sports (hunting, shooting and angling) an underestimated public health problem?

Raimon Guitart, Vernon G. Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Ammunition and fishing weights used in recreational hunting, shooting and fishing sports have been made traditionally with lead. In Spain, for example, hunters and shooters are responsible for the dispersion of some 6.000 tonnes of the heavy metal yearly, into wetland and dryland areas, and an estimated 100 tonnes are contributed by anglers to the aquatic zones. The few legal measures that several countries have adopted banning the use of the lead in these sports are based on the irrefutable proof that every year millions of birds were poisoned lethally, due to the inadvertent ingestion of lead shot and sinkers found in their habitats. We analyzed whether the present conservationist approach to the problem is suitable, and if the evidence of damage to human beings is, or is not, sufficient to warrant even more prohibitive measures, especially because, in children, there is no safe exposure to lead. We conclude that in some areas adequate information already exists, although in others the toxicological-epidemiological studies are still scanty, suggesting that the topic has been given little attention. We are concerned that the Precautionary Principle has not been applied to solve this problem whose health effects will be more long-term than immediate, especially given the array of lead substitutes available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-632
JournalRevista Espanola de Salud Publica
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005


  • Fishing sinkers
  • Heavy metal pollution
  • Human health
  • Lead poisoning
  • Lead shot
  • Shooting ranges


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