Case Against Lead Ammunition Building

We’re seeing more and more stories like this.  This one from Wisconsin pointing out birds are dying of lead poisoning, and it’s the fault of ammunition from hunting and lead sinkers.  Here are some questions I ask when I see these studies:

But, he said, “I think the lead bullets in venison reopened the door again. I do believe that over the past couple of years that a lot of things have changed.”

What studies have shown that lead fragments in venison contribute to lead poisoning in humans?  Humans have been consuming animals killed by lead shot and lead bullets (musket bullets have a lot more lead in them, in fact) for centuries.  Why is it only now that it’s a problem?

The DNR study also found lead fishing tackle in all loons that died of lead poisoning.

What’s the overall incidence of lead fishing tackle in loons?  Have they found loons that had lead fishing tackle in their gizzards that did not have lead poisoning?

Elemental lead is actually not that remarkably toxic.  Cases have been reported of human ingestion of lead shot with little ill effect.  Most cases of human lead poisoning come from people (mostly kids) consuming oxides of lead found in chips from leaded paints.  Hunting groups need to fund their own studies that start asking the right question.  Right now, the environmentalist are driving the debate, and for them, no amount of lead in the environment is acceptable.

15 thoughts on “Case Against Lead Ammunition Building”

  1. Well, I suppose I’d have to agree with Wisconsin. This year I watched 2 pheasant and 3 chukar die from high speed lead poisoning.

    Of course, I’m certain that ASHA are ALL over this!

  2. Lead could end up like asbestos. Only one type is hazardous, but it’s all banned.

  3. Hell, there have been people who lived for years with a bullet in them; I haven’t yet seen any good proof that lead is that dangerous in the environment in its pure form.

  4. I suspect that you may find find that particular soil types and conditions are especially problematic–especially soils that are strongly acidic or alkaline. I was associated with a range some years ago in California that was getting hassled, and someone dug up a report that demonstrated that even over a period of years, at least in most relatively pH neutral soils, elemental lead had effectively no transport through the ground, even in the presence of ground water.

  5. Keep in mind that lead isn’t exactly unknown in the natural environment. My book Armed America documented the sometimes startling size of lead mining and refining operations in the early Republic–millions of pounds a year being smelted in some operations in the 1830s. There’s a reason that Illinois has a town named Galena (which is the name of a common lead ore, lead sulfide), and it isn’t just because it sounds cool.

  6. Was that study from Florida? I think I have read this. It would seem, then, the trick is keeping berm pH neutral. Elemental lead, however, is remarkably resistant to acids. It used to be used to store acids in the days before polymers.

    I think a study needs to be done on birds to determine what amount of ingested lead is hazardous to them, and then determine what the incidence is of such ingestion in the wild. Until someone does that, we don’t really know the scope of the problem, and if we’re going on anecdotal evidence from live birds, we don’t know if they are contracting lead poisoning from other sources.

  7. I agree with Mr. Cramer above. At one time lead was a “high tech” necessity for our region and country. This environmental push is probably being done just in case certain global warming events don’t take place. This way they have a cause.

    I would have to look at many stores like Cabellas or Bass Pro and see that there is a pretty good balance between fishing and hunting goods that use lead. Sure the paint is a problem for children. But I don’t ever recall putting a fishing lure in my mouth as a child.

    I would have to offer up lead as a building materials in the 1700 – 1900s. Lead pipes have been around for quite some time. What about lead pipes or lead solder furnishing drinking water? There are too many things for people to come up with to cause death, disfigurement – are people just complaining too much?

  8. I think the photo of the swan being helped to digest the lead was a bit of staging and when did swans become raptors?

  9. Why do these people never remember that we use to LEAD gasoline? That put more lead into the environment than bullets ever could. Remember lead paint, lead toys, lead glass, lead pipes, ect. Really you have to consume so much lead in order for it to be fatal.

    Now I will admit that we as a society have been removing lead from many things over the years. But this has always been because technology found a better way (Copper and PVC pipe for example). So if manufactures can make steel cored ammo, I don’t have a problem. ; )

  10. Steel doesn’t flatten as much as lead does, leading to overpenetration issues. You could reduce the powder charge, but that just gives you a weaker bullet impact (like a .380 vs. a 9mm). As steel is lighter than lead, this means that you lose some efficiency at the margins, too. Think of the problems this will cause with handguns: to get the maximum bullet weight (and thus the best chance of stopping your assailant), you’d need a bigger bullet. This can either be done by rechambering existing guns to take longer bullets (which will be far too expensive, and probably prone to FTFs) or increasing the diameter. Increasing the diameter leads (pardon the pun) to fewer cartridges in the gun. I guess this is less of an issue for revolvers, although I’d be interested to know if it tears up the forcing cone.

    I’d imagine it also damages shotgun barrels (and chokes and suppressors).

    Keep in mind that many of these people are those who try to use cloth diapers. That should be pretty telling, I’d think.

  11. The reason, however, that those crazy environmentalists, the Reagan Administration, accelerated the removal of tetraethyl lead from gasoline was because of a study from Australia that clearly demonstrated that it was causing retardation in children in inner cities. But tetraethyl lead isn’t elemental lead; it’s tied to a hydrocarbon and blow through the air, well suited to getting into lungs as a gas and then crossing into the blood.

  12. Warning! The comment that follows is intended as pure snarkiness and is meant as satire. The author of this comment presents the following to illustrate an absurd respose to an absurd position taken by the lead opposition:

    “Is it possible to take lead out of the environment by putting lead into the environmentalists?”

    Note: No environmentalists were harmed during the typing of this comment. Readers should not attempt the activities implied in the comment above. The previous comment has not been tested, certified, nor endorsed by the EPA.

    That is all.

    – USCitizen

  13. I hate to tell the e-freaks but lead & asbestos are natural substances. They’re organic even.

  14. I wonder if a part of their motive to remove lead is to incress the cost of ammo. I know that the cost of restocking my dove and waterfowl loads have incressed dramaticly. I have 5 in my family that hunt and 2 more that will be old enough soon ( me,wife and 5 kids) and we hunt to supliment what we raise here on the farm. The new restrictions they are trying to place on guns, ammo and hunting will impact us more than just in a hobby or defensive ( all my children are taught defensive along with saftey) mannor. It affects what is in our freezer for the winter.

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