LEAD Action News Vol 2 no
1 Summer 1994. ISSN 1324-6011
The following section on environmental exposures is part of the Australian input into an OECD document on lead. It shows the need for action on lead shot, especially in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania.
Sources of ecosystems or non-human exposure to lead include leaded petrol, battery breaking plants, lead smelters, lead shot, and lead fishing weights. These have impacted on water, air and soil quality and, in turn, have impacted on aquatic and terrestrial (including avian) life.
Lead toxicosis, following ingestion of lead shot, has long been recognised as a significant cause of mortality in waterfowl. As in other countries, Australia has needed to deal with problems caused in certain areas through the use of lead shot in hunting. For example, following ingestion of lead shot, lead toxicosis has been observed in Magpie geese, Black swans, several species of duck (including Black duck and Musk duck) and Hardhead. The level of ingestion of lead shot and the concentration of lead in the tissue of several species of waterfowl has been shown to be above criteria used in other countries at which action is taken.
To date, there has been no national approach to reducing risks of lead exposure to the non-human environment. As is generally the case with chemicals management in Australia, action is initiated at the State level.
Two states do not allow waterfowl hunting and two states have partial bans on the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting. Monitoring in three of the four States indicates that the level of ingestion of lead shot is equal to or greater than the levels set in the US at which management action is taken. In the remaining State, monitoring has indicated that there are no known incidents at this stage (refer to the following table for details).
The rationale for these actions is primarily:
The rationale behind the total bans on all waterfowl hunting is based on animal welfare and conservation arguments and the type of shot is secondary. At some hunting grounds, steel shot is obligatory and consideration is being given elsewhere to voluntary use of steel and other non toxic shot.
[Reference: Risk Reduction Monograph No.1: Lead Background And National Experience With Reducing Risk, Environment Directorate, Organisation For Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD), Paris 1993 pp143-144)]
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