People who eat game have higher lead levels, N. Dakota study findsBISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakotans who ate wild game killed with lead bullets appeared to have higher lead levels than those who ate little or no wild game, according to a study released Wednesday by the North Dakota Department of Health.
BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakotans who ate wild game killed with lead bullets appeared to have higher lead levels than those who ate little or no wild game, according to a study released Wednesday by the North Dakota Department of Health.
The study examined the lead levels in the blood of more than 700 state residents. The elevated lead levels were not considered dangerous, but North Dakota officials say pregnant women and children younger than 6 should avoid eating venison killed using lead bullets. Those groups are considered most at risk from lead poisoning, which can cause learning problems and convulsions, and in severe cases can lead to brain damage and death.
The study, conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Health Department, is the first to connect lead traces in game with higher lead levels in the blood of people who ate it, said Dr. Stephen Pickard, a CDC epidemiologist who works with the state Health Department.
A separate study by Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources earlier found that fragments from lead bullets spread as far as 18 inches away from the wound. Minnesota’s firearms deer season opens Saturday in Northeastern Minnesota.
“Nobody was in trouble from the lead levels,” Pickard said. “The effect was small but large enough to be a concern.”
Pickard said the study found the more recent the consumption of wild game, the higher the level of lead in the blood.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms and ammunition industry, said the study confirms that there is no evidence of human health risk from using traditional ammunition.
Health officials say the best way to avoid ingesting lead-tainted venison is to use bullets that don’t contain lead.