ECHA’s scientific committees support limiting lead use for outdoor shooting and fishing



ECHA’s Committees for Socio-Economic Analysis and Risk Assessment back the proposed restriction on the use of lead in ammunition for hunting, outdoor sports shooting and in fishing. The restriction could prevent over 600 000 tonnes of lead from being released into the environment, save millions of birds from lead poisoning and protect children in hunter families.

Helsinki, 30 November 2022 – The Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted its final opinion on the proposed restriction covering the use of lead projectiles for hunting and outdoor sports shooting, as well as lead used in fishing sinkers and lures. The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) adopted its opinion on the same proposal in June 2022.

RAC considered that the use of lead in these activities poses risks to wildlife, people and the environment that are not adequately controlled. Both committees agreed that a restriction under the REACH Regulation is the most appropriate EU-wide measure to address the risks. SEAC concluded that the proposed restriction can be considered proportionate after evaluating the costs and benefits to society. It also highlighted that some of the benefits were not quantified but are likely to be significant – for example the benefits of avoiding the poisoning of predatory birds.

María Ottati, the Chair of SEAC says: “We have looked at the impacts of the restriction from many sides, not just the potential costs for shooters and fishers. We have analysed whether hunting as an activity will be affected and expect there to be no long-term drop. We have looked at the availability of shooting ranges for military training, the supply of lead ammunition for non-civilian use and at the economic impacts of installing the proposed lead containment measures at shooting ranges. Based on the available information, we consider the proposed restriction to be proportionate and the most appropriate way of addressing the risks.”

RAC has also adopted a supplementary opinion on risks for human health from lead in game meat. This opinion is based on an evaluation of comments and evidence from the public submitted to ECHA during a consultation, which ran from July to October 2022. The consultation focused on data from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that was used in the risk assessment underpinning the proposal. RAC’s supplementary opinion confirms the conclusions of the original opinion.

“We have thoroughly looked at EFSA’s data again and all the consultation input and consider there to be a moderate to high risk from eating lead-contaminated game meat for children in hunter families. The risks for adults are likely to be low. Overall, RAC supports a transition to more sustainable outdoor shooting and fishing to protect the environment and people’s health,” says Tim Bowmer, the Chair of RAC.

Both committees make recommendations to modify the conditions of the proposed restriction. Both suggest, for example, that the transition period before the restriction starts applying for lead gunshot in hunting could be shorter than the five years originally proposed. The main recommendations of the committees are available in the Q&A. The combined RAC and SEAC opinion and the RAC’s supplementary opinion will be published in early 2023.

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ECHA, 30-11-22