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Increasing the Awareness of Health Risks from Lead-Contaminated Game Meat Among International and National Human Health Organizations
European Journal of Environment and Public Health, 2022, 6(2), em0110, https://doi.org/10.21601/ejeph/12043
ABSTRACT: Lead bullets and gunshot frequently fragment on impact in game animals and the resulting lead particles are bioavailable. Dietary exposure to this lead source can present health risks to vulnerable groups including young children and frequent consumers such as hunters, subsistence indigenous communities, and recipients of game meat from food banks. Many of the frequent game meat consumers in the European Union (EU) are likely to be drawn from the 13.8 million people, including 1.1 million young children, belonging to hunters’ households. It is estimated that 10 million people are potentially at risk in the USA. National food and health advisories and regulatory considerations appear confined to Europe. Despite the European Commission requesting restrictions on lead ammunition, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and individual countries have not adequately recognized this lead source nor developed mitigation measures. In contrast, several agreements administered by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), have well-developed risk reduction strategies for lead ammunition exposure of wildlife. These agencies could play a leadership role, stimulating appropriate international accords and national regulatory changes requiring the use of non-lead ammunition. Establishing a maximum allowable level of lead in game meat under FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius and EU Regulation 1881/2006, and harmonizing inter-agency human and environmental health approaches would be an important start.