« Hope And Change: Barack Obama On Gun Rights | Main | First Look: Thompson-Center Renegade 2 »

November 07, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Shots at its new location: www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots.

Lead-In-Blood Study Released, Questions Remain

We hunters who eat the game meat have elevated levels of lead in our bloodstreams. Or we don’t.

A highly anticipated study that looked at whether people who eat wild game meat harvested with lead bullets have correspondingly higher levels of lead in their blood than the general population was released this week. And while some of the recommendations are dire, the results aren’t conclusive.

The study was conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and the North Dakota Department of Health and tested the blood of 738 North Dakotans who identified themselves as consumers of wild game meat.

The study was launched after investigations last year found lead bullet fragments in a significant percentage of butchered venison. Authors of the blood study aimed to find out if hunters’ families that ate wild venison were more likely to have higher levels of lead in their bloodstreams than the general public.

And the result is that there is a mildly elevated level of lead in the blood of the sampled population. Lead levels ranged from no detectable levels to 9.82 micrograms per deciliter (CDC guidelines say that lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood can cause physical and cognitive problems). The North Dakota health department issued this dire warning based on the study:

*       Pregnant women and children younger than 6 should not eat any venison harvested with lead bullets.
*       Older children and other adults should take steps to minimize their potential exposure to lead, and use their judgment about consuming game that was taken using lead-based ammunition.

Not so fast, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which issued a news release proclaiming that the study confirms that traditional ammunition is not a public health risk. The release, in part, reads:

As noted in a media advisory released by the North Dakota Department of Health, the highest lead level reading of an adult study participant was still below the CDC accepted lead level threshold for that of a child, and significantly lower than the CDC accepted lead level threshold for that of an adult. Furthermore, during a tele-press conference hosted by the ND Department of Health, officials stated they could not verify whether this adult even consumed game harvested with traditional ammunition. Correspondingly, the study only showed an insignificant 0.3 micrograms per deciliter difference between participants who ate wild game harvested with traditional ammunition and non-hunters in the control group.

So which is it? Should your children refrain from eating the deer roast you harvest this fall? Or should we toast the wild fare with the same relish we have for centuries? Stay tuned…

- Andrew McKean