Politicians come together to bring an end to toxic lead pollution - Wildlife and Countryside Link

A new cross-party group of parliamentarians has come together with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) and Wildlife and Countryside Link, on the toxic impact of lead ammunition pollution.

The Lead Ammunition All Party Parliamentary Group will work to raise awareness of the impacts on human, wildlife and environmental health and to press for solutions. It will be engaging closely with UK REACH’s consultation aiming to achieve a Government ban on lead ammunition in 2023.

Lead pollution from ammunition kills up to 100,000 waterbirds each year in the UK alone, with birds ingesting spent lead pellets left in habitats. A further 200,000 - 400,000 birds are left suffering the health impacts of lead poisoning including lower resistance to disease and lesser ability to breed. Despite there being some current restrictions on the use of lead shot in the UK, field testing in England by WWT shows the proportion of birds ingesting lead has not significantly decreased since legislation was introduced. [1] Compliance with both legal restrictions and a wider voluntary ban are poor.

The toxic effects of lead also works up the food chain as predators and scavengers such as golden eagles and red kites eat prey contaminated with lead. Humans can also suffer the consequences of lead pollution from ingesting lead shot in game meat as well as exposure to wildlife, plants, soils, and domestic animals that end up laced with toxic lead from ammunition. Previous research from WWT has found game meat with levels of lead many times the maximum European allowance for livestock, even following the removal of visible pieces.

An estimated 6,000 tonnes of lead from ammunition used in shotgun and rifle shooting are discharged every year. At least 2,000 tonnes of pestilent lead shot used for game and pest shooting is left in our countryside, the equivalent weight of 1,000 giraffes, 3,000 cows or 19 blue whales.

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Posted On: 09/06/2022

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