Lead pollution from shooting and angling, and a common regulative approach

Vernon G. Thomas, Raimon Guitart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


In every nation, the shooting, hunting and sports fishing communities that use lead products have shown themselves unwilling to press for reform of the issue of lead shot and weight use. The voluntary approach to using lead products does not work because there is no real obligation to comply. Therefore, there is little inducement for industry to develop and market substitutes widely, a fact that further confounds voluntary use by negating broad availability of non-toxic substitutes. Commoner (1990) suggested that, in the USA, the most successful environmental remediation has all resulted from legal bans of products because this provides the basis for regulation and public compliance. Thomas and Orlova (2000) cautioned that attempting to reduce pollution without first developing alternate technologies will be met by major non-compliance, thus requiring extra enforcement on the part of governments. In the case of lead shot and fishing weights, technology has produced effective substitutes, but there is still the problem of inducing public change in many countries. It is opined that enforced, legal bans provide the means for change on the part of sportsmen, and simultaneously, provide the incentives for industry to make alternative products available. Given the evidence for a single lead pollution problem in both human and natural environments, it is not expedient policy for governments to attempt to deal with specific types of lead pollution (e.g. leaded gasoline or lead shot) individually, on a case by case basis, especially when substitutes are available. This piecemeal approach fragments the issue across different levels of a country's government, and also across different departments/ministries of a government. This is evident in all the nations of North America, Europe and Australasia that have addressed lead pollution, and it results in inconsistent policy and legislation (if any).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-154
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Law
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003


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