Lead shot and sinkers: Ecotoxicology and effects on animals

R. Guitart, S. Manosa, V. G. Thomas, R. Mateo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


About a 100,000 tones of lead are used every year, world-wide, in the manufacture of lead shot for hunting and sport shooting, 5000 t of wich are used in Spain. This lead, together with that coming from sport fishing and military practices, is destined to be deposited in the environment where it causes a serious pollution problem for the environment and the direct poisoning of wildlife. The pollution effects upon the environment and the accumulation of highly bioavailable lead compounds in trophic webs have been demonstrated in many instances. It has been suggested that the lead accumulated in plants, fungi, and invertebrates is a potencial source for vertebrates. The direct toxic effects of lead shot and sinkers on wildlife have been described mainly in waterbirds, upland birds, and birds of prey. They have also been reported to occur in cattle, reptiles and marine mammals, and occur whenever these small lead objects are ingested. In Spain, lead shot ingestion causes the death of about 50,000 waterbirds every year, some in endangered or threatened species. Two of the three most important lead poisoning outbreaks in flamingos were recorded in Spain. The first case of a fatal lead poisoning of a Palearctic griffon vulture was also recorded in Spain. This pollution problem is serious, but not confined to Spain. There are several effective alternatives to the use of lead in these sporting activities, and there is no legitimate reason why they should not be urgently and globally implemented. The experience of several countries, such as Denmark, Norway, The Netherlands, The United States or The United Kingdom, shows that lead use is not essential for the the practice of hunting, sport shooting, or fishing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
JournalRevista de Toxicologia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999


  • Lead shot
  • Lead sinkers
  • Poisoning
  • Pollution
  • Review


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