Assistance required by MSc research project: Assessment of the risks faced by European mammals from lead exposure in ammunition and fishing weights

Potential pathways of lead exposure to European mammals from ammunition and fishing weights.

Project Information

Lead introduced to the environment through sport/game hunting-ammunition and fishing weights has the potential to negatively impact the mammals within those ecosystems. Lead exposures from these sources and the lead poisoning it causes have been well researched in European bird species, however information on the risk pathways and exposure for mammals is poorly documented.

I have completed an initial assessment of the potential risk pathways posed to mammals by lead ammunition and fishing weights using feeding ecology literature and reports of exposure globally, compiling my finding in the File spreadsheet as attached.  The project is timely due to EU consideration of the risks from these lead sources within the context of EU chemicals regulation REACH. 

Below is a brief explanation of how I have populated the File spreadsheet so far and some questions for which I would appreciate your advice on. Any insights for mammal lead poisoning from ammunition and fishing weight sources will be greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance!  


Pathways table

Exposure likelihood

Scores are based on the perceived possibility of ammunition (degraded or particulate) exposure in areas of high and low ammunition deposition. High deposition areas are defined as places which are consistently used for hunting or sport shooting activity such as shooting ranges, clay pigeon shoot sites, annual culling sites or seasonal game shooting reserves.  Low deposition areas were defined as areas where shooting (or fishing) occurs on an irregular basis such as forests with low intensity shooting, or one-off pest management occurs. Likelihood scores reflect feeding ecology, dietary preferences and frequency as reported in current literature. Scores are based on a 5-point systems described in the table below.  

Score table

Scores have been reduced from high to low deposition areas to account for a decreased volume of ammunition present within the environment. However, where exposure routes scored 1 in high deposition areas, this remained un-changed for low deposition areas, as the risk of exposure would only be non-existent in areas where no ammunition was released. 

Your involvement

Please look over the File spreadsheet, and consider the following:  

1. From your knowledge of these species feeding ecology, do these pathways and likelihood scores for possible lead exposure seem correct? 

2. Areas of high deposition are those where shooting activity is consistent each year for example at shooting ranges, clay pigeon recreation sites and game hunting reserves. Are there any species you believe would be very likely or very unlikely to have spatial overlap with these areas?  

3. Have you come across lead toxicosis from ammunition or fishing weight sources in these species previously? If so, please share your experience/the reports so that I may review and use these as evidence.  

If you are happy to respond via email please do so. If you would rather discuss via video call, please let me know a date and time which suits you (I am very flexible!). I would appreciate a response as soon as possible, as my report is due for submission in August.  

No personal data will be collected during the discussions and any information provided will only be accessed by me (the student) and my supervisors [Prof. Richard Kock (RVC) and Dr. Ruth Cromie (WWT Ecosystem health unit)]. Data will be presented in a summarised form in the report that I must produce for my degree. It may also be disseminated through conference presentations or publication. The raw data will be destroyed when no longer needed or once 7 years since collection has passed, whichever is soonest. Your confirmation to a meeting will be taken as consent for me to use the information discussed for the purposes described above.

Additionally, I would be most grateful if you could indicate when you supply the data whether you would be happy for your organisation to be identifiable in the report. I will not identify your organisation without your explicit consent.

Thank you in advance for any help you are able to give in the completion of my project.  If you have any questions, please contact me at: 

Louise Chiverton 

MSc One Health