Frequently Asked Questions regarding Lead Ammunition


 


 

 1. Why is lead in ammunition currently under review?

 

 2. What is the situation in the EU regarding lead and more in specific lead in ammunition?

 

 3. Which form of lead is used in ammunition?

 

 4. What is the difference between lead metal and other forms of lead?

 

 5. What is the situation of lead within the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) process?

 

 6. What are the effects of metallic lead on the environment?

 

 7. Is metallic lead recyclable?

 

 8. Is lead in ammunition a concern also outside the EU?

 

 9. What are examples of attack on lead ammunition in the USA?

 

10. What are the effects of lead ammunition on wild life?

 

11. Why are effects of lead ammunition on animal species negligible?

 

12. Is it safe to eat game meat hunted with lead ammunition?

 

13. Which are the most dangerous lead contaminants for human health?

 

14. Is lead blood level of game meat consumers higher than non-consumers?

 

15. Are materials different from lead available for ammunition use?

 

16. Have lead-free ammunition material been thoroughly examined in every aspect (environmental toxicology, human toxicology etc.) as done for lead?

 

17. Why it is difficult to replace lead from the point of view of ammo performance?

 

18. How in terms of internal ballistics is lead generally superior to other substances?

 

19. What are the characteristics of lead that makes it efficient in external ballistics?

 

20. Why is metallic lead ideal for terminal ballistic efficiency?

 

21. What consequences would non-lead ammunition have on sport shooting and on important international competitions as for example the Olympic Games?

 

22. What socioeconomic consequence would a ban on lead ammunition have?

 

23. Does the EU consider these socioeconomic consequences?

 

24. What type of consequences other than socioeconomic would a ban on lead?

 

25. Why is hunting a necessary prerequisite in game management?

 


1.  Why is lead in ammunition currently under review?

Lead in ammunition is currently under attack because it is an easy pretext for groups against hunting and sport shooting to influence public opinion in a negative way. Stating that ammunition contaminates the environment and threatens human’s life, often on the basis of questionable evidences, is a sensible theme and gains attention. The environment it is not the real interest but the ultimate goal is to ban hunting and shooting activities.


2. What is the situation in the EU regarding lead and more in specific lead in ammunition?

EU legal issues concern lead but not specifically metal lead and the use of lead in ammunition. No EU Directives and Regulations today are limiting any use of metal lead in ammunition. Only local restrictions are in place, frequently based of decisions taken without distinguishing facts & figures by ideologies and emotions.


3. Which form of lead is used in ammunition?

In ammunition is exclusively used lead in metal form, due to its high density and malleable proprieties.


4. What is the difference between lead metal and other forms of lead?

Other forms of lead, like powders, compounds, mixtures, oxides and so on, have higher solubility, lower resistance to corrosion and significant negative impact on both environment and human health.


5. What is the situation of lead within the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) process?

As requested by REACH, an extensive lead dossier was presented in 2010 to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) that accepted the use of metal lead in ammunition without asking any limitation or restriction. On the other hand, other forms of lead are included in the restrictive lists of REACH. Candidate listAuthorisation listRegistry of intentions


6. What are the effects of metallic lead on the environment?

Effects of metallic lead on the environment are negligible, because it is hardly soluble and therefore it tends to be unavailable to biological systems. Only in certain particular circumstances, lead releases metal ions in water.


7. Is metallic lead recyclable?

Yes, metallic lead is 100% recyclable with low costs, which makes it convenient on an economic and environmental standpoint. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly common for shooting ranges around the world to collect fired shots and projectiles.


8. Is lead in ammunition a concern also outside the EU?

The use of lead in ammunition is under attack also in the USA, with the same motivations and using the same methods as in Europe.


9. What are examples of attack on lead ammunition in the USA?

In 1985 a law banned lead ammunition in California because it was considered the reason for the declining of the Condor species. After years of ban if was verified that lead blood level of the Condors was not decreased, demonstrating that the causes of contamination were others, like lead paint (still present in remote areas even after many years of ban), human micro trash and so on.


10. What are the effects of lead ammunition on wild life?

Effects of lead ammunition on wildlife are negligible. Only in certain circumstances high levels of lead shots at contact with animal gastric juices, can release metal ion. However, studies have demonstrated that possible death of a single animal from lead contamination does not necessary affect the trends of the entire species.


11. Why are effects of lead ammunition on animal species negligible?

Effects of lead ammunition on animal species are negligible if compared to human contamination of natural animal habitat, use of pesticides, starvation and diseases. All of this have a bigger impact on population size, growth and extinction. Besides, it is important to consider that the majority of animals live in upland areas where it is almost impossible for lead shots to accumulate in large quantities making the possibility of lead ingestion near to zero.


12. Is it safe to eat game meat hunted with lead ammunition?

Yes, game meat has negligible consequences on human health. However, to reduce the risk to almost zero it is sufficient to clean the entry wound of the projectile since lead fragments dispersion is confined. Furthermore, it must be considered that, when eventually ingested, lead fragments cannot be directly absorbed by the human body because of their metallic form: less than 1% are converted to ionic form and could potentially be absorbed by human tissues.


13. Which are the most dangerous lead contaminants for human health?

As shown by the 2010 EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) Report, it is demonstrated that the main led contaminants of human body are cereals, vegetables, milk, soft drinks, tea, coffee, alcoholic drinks, water, food supplements and not game meat.


14. Is lead blood level of game meat consumers higher than non-consumers?

Studies made by the Swiss Public Health Office and the Policlinico Hospital Foundation of Milan proves that the risk of increased toxicity of game consumer’s blood is not significant and is below the limits defined by the European Food Safety Authority.


15. Are materials different from lead available for ammunition use?

Yes, today producers are proposing a range of ammunition that includes non-lead projectiles and shots for specific niches of utilization. The aim is to integrate the lead ammunition range with other performing and sustainable materials, in order to specialize the offer in a maturity stage of the business cycle. Besides, a new material is taken into consideration by the ammunition industry only and if it assures the requested performances, it is sustainable for the environment, for the users and for the industry.


16. Have lead-free ammunition material been thoroughly examined in every aspect (environmental toxicology, human toxicology etc.) as done for lead?

No lead free materials known today have been submitted with positive results to the technical and scientific analysis conducted in the time on lead.


17. Why it is difficult to replace lead from the point of view of ammo performance?

Lead ammunition is difficult to replace because the internal, external and terminal ballistics superiority of this metal are hardly reachable by other possible substances.


18. How in terms of internal ballistics is lead generally superior to other substances?

Since generally non-lead bullets are not as malleable as lead bullets, moving at a high rate of speed might damage determinate parts of the weapon. In addition, there is a high danger of gas overpressure increasing probable accidents for shooters.


19. What are the characteristics of lead that makes it efficient in external ballistics?

Lead because of its high density maintains velocity and energy during the flight, which guarantees accuracy especially on long distances. Non-lead bullets not having the same accuracy have a higher probability to injure the animal causing unnecessary suffering and slow death against hunting ethics.


20. Why is metallic lead ideal for terminal ballistic efficiency?

Lead because of its malleable proprieties easily deforms and maintains weight ensuring exceptional energy transfer when hitting a target. At the same time, non-lead bullets generally do not deform and break on impact with hard objects maintaining energy and giving unpredictable rebound risking harming people in proximity or the shooter itself.


21. What consequences would non-lead ammunition have on sport shooting and on important international competitions as for example the Olympic Games?

Non-Lead free ammunition generally have worse ballistic performances due to the different relation between density and hardness, with consequent decrease of hitting probability. This frequently requires different powder quantity and pressure conditions, both significantly stressing parts of existing guns, which will than result no longer adequate. Furthermore, performances are worsened because the number of shots is defined by shooting regulations and cannot be decided upon the characteristics of the materials. The time of flight and the risk of ricochet of non-lead shots are other elements limiting their performances.


22. What socioeconomic consequence would a ban on lead ammunition have?

It would reduce the accessibility to both hunting and sport shooting, damaging a sector with 580.000 employees, with more than 1.800 manufacturers, 200 distributors and 14.000 retailers and an economic value of 40 billion euros including induced activity, without considering the importance of hunting as a necessary prerequisite in game management.


23. Does the EU consider these socioeconomic consequences?

Yes. In fact, the REACH Art 60(4) states: Authorization may only be granted if it is shown that socioeconomic benefits outweigh the risk and if there are no suitable alternative substances or technologies. In this case, there would not be any socioeconomic benefits and there are no suitable alternative substances, meaning that the consequences of resolving the problem would create far worse issues to deal with.


24. What type of consequences other than socioeconomic would a ban on lead ammunition have?

Banning lead on ammunition will not only have environmental consequences. Due to energy consumption, the industrial costs of recycling lead is infinitely lower than the majority of its substitutes, mainly thanks to a low melting point. This has also significant impacts on the environment.


25. Why is hunting a necessary prerequisite in game management?

Hunting is a prerequisite in game management because it is part of the activity to protect and preserve animal habitat in order to allow various species to grow healthy and abundant. Hunting is also about maintaining a certain natural equilibrium studying, protecting and monitoring the environment in order to prevent irreversible consequences on nature. Therefore hunters are berween the major stakeholders of nature protection and preservation.