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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:16 am 
Tight Mouth
Tight Mouth

Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 173
Location: NY
Having a soon to be 1 year old, this topic really got me thinking. So I'm doing some research and here's the main highlights of what I've found. Of course do your own research don't just take my word for it. This is not a debate this is my research and my opinion on it. Take it for what it's worth.

"And the result is that there is a mildly elevated level of lead in the blood of the sampled population. Lead levels ranged from no detectable levels to 9.82 micrograms per deciliter (CDC guidelines say that lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood can cause physical and cognitive problems). The North Dakota health department issued this dire warning based on the study:"

This is a better article that dives deeper into the a different study and finds

"Ingesting lead particles in game meat is not the most important source of lead exposure to humans,”

"those who consumed game meat had only 0.3 micrograms per deciliter higher PbB than did those who had not consumed game meat."

The most significant finding here for me was that "Using radiography, researchers detected lead in tissue samples, as much as 18 inches away from the exit wound, and noted that most of the particles were too small to see or feel." A couple of shots and you've potentially contaminated the entire Deer. But I can easily see the lead traveling easier through the body cavity than through the actual muscle. So we need to study how the lead is traveling in order to understand what parts of the Deer are being contaminated.

The white paper from the Wisconsin study is probably the most useful research I've found. However the study was significantly flawed. 183 packages from at most no more than a dozen deer is not a large enough sample size. Granted they came from 6 different butchers but even if they were spread as far apart as possible across the state, it is not a large enough sample size. Even when you add the 114 samples from "hunters" they were people involved in the study and probably geographically located close to each other.

If you read the findings not just the study summary you find that between 8-15% of the samples tested positive for lead with averages between 1.8-2.4 mg/kg. The question becomes is that a hazardous or risky amount? It's important to convert that to the proper measurement. That's 1800-2400 micrograms (mcg)/kg. Now I'm not sure how to convert Kg to L when taking into account that we are talking about muscle. So for my analysis I'm using the conversion of water which is 1:1. Therefore this converts to 180 mcg/dl. Well above the CDC amount of 10 mcg/dl. Right there a major flag should be going up. That's very bad!!!

Let's look at the math another way to try and validate the study. I shoot 1 oz. shotgun slugs. That's 437 grains. Let's take the assumption on the high end in that most rifle slugs (Deer in this study were shot with rifles) are 200 grains or about half an oz. The Wisconsin study used samples sizes of 1/4 lbs. There are 14175 mg in half an ounce. That is .013% of each bullet per 1/4 lbs sample.

Now lets make the assumption that accounting for bone, hide, blood, and guts the average Deer (without those) weighs 100 lbs. That is about 47 lbs of meat harvested. Now given the average Deer size and a perfect kill zone (heart and lung) shot about half the meat is within 18" diameter. That is 23.5 lbs. Scale that to the sample size it is 94 samples.

Multiply 94 samples times .013% that is 1.22%. That means that 98.78% of a bullet is in the removed parts of the Deer and/or exits the Deer. To me that is pretty realistic. But wait only 8-15% of the samples were contaminated. Using 15% that is 14.1 samples. That's only 0.182% of the bullet leaving 99.82% of the bullet in the removed parts of the Deer and/or exits the Deer. That is even more realistic.

One part of the study that raised my eyebrows was table 2 on page 5 (9 of the PDF). I'm not going to repeat it but it has to do with their predicted lead concentration in children that consume venison shot with lead bullets. Their predictions don't match reality. People have been hunting with lead bullets and consuming the meat as a staple of their diet for hundreds of years. Given their predictions we would have killed ourselves or at least all have been poisoned a long time ago. Point, if this were true we would have seen the effects a long time ago and this would have been a much larger issue than it is today, a long time ago. This also does not align with the North Dakota study that found only a 0.3 mcg/dl higher rate in the blood of those that eat game meat.

Let's keep going. There was no control study done. It wouldn't be hard to take some road kill Deer from across the state and perform lead testing. What if the bullets aren't causing the lead to be in the tissue? Or what if it's not the bullet that they are being shot with causing the contamination?

No data was recorded as to what type of bullet they were shot with. What if we change the material of the bullet but without accounting for the actual ballistics we cause an even worse problem? What if it is modern bullets that cause the contamination? Take for example plastic bullets. What if they deposit other chemicals into our meat.

Reality check for a moment. I've been eating venison as a staple in my diet for my entire life. My wife since just before we got married (so 7 years). When my wife became pregnant (a year and half ago now) we were tested and both of us had an undetectable amount. As did our daughter when she was born. So what does that say about all this?

If this is such a problem why are we not seeing it? The CDC reports over the last 10 years that the number of children <72 months old that tested positive for lead levels above the 10 mcg/dl is less than 1%. That is down from 8% 20 years ago. That is a significant decline. Now the number of children tested has risen. So there is argument that prior to 10 years ago there was a flaw in the sample or data collected not being representative of the true population. Hunting has also declined over the last 20 years. Although the last 10 years includes a recession where hunting numbers actually increased slightly yet there is no corresponding correlation in the number of children that tested positive. Another aspect though is how many people feed their children venison. I'm probably among the minority that feeds my <1 year old venison. But I know a lot of people that feed it to >2 year old's.

Now depending on what source you use, hunting hovers just above 10% of the US population. So what needs to be looked at is the correlation between children that test positive and parents that hunt and feed them what they shoot. Not having a study on this correlation I'm going to go with my gut and logical thinking and say there isn't one. If there was I would think it would stick out like a sore thumb especially given such a decline in the amount of children testing positive.

Here's the logical thinking. The US population is about 323M. 10% hunt that that's 32M. Now I found conflicting information for the next part. Some sources say 74% of Americans have children. Others say there are 74M children in the US. That's only about 30%. So for this I'll error on the side of caution and go with the lower 30%. That's 10M hunters have children. There are about 4M children born each year and we'll go with an average of 3M tested for lead. Now granted that is not saying that 3M newborns are tested. Some children are tested multiple times in their lives and others are never tested. It also does not give the ages children are tested at. Therefore I think a safe assumption is that in general the testing occurs near birth or at least less than 2 years of age.

This is the age that above I said were probably not eating game meat. Therefore there is argument that the CDC's results are not meaningful in this discussion. But let's say for a second it is, and that there is some kind of unknown correlation between children that eat game meat and those that test positive. For this I actually went to the dataon the CDC's site and went back to 1997. There were 109M children tested and 1.79% tested positive. If there is a correlation we'll say for arguments sake that half of those were children that ate game meat. That means that just shy of 976,000 children tested positive as a result of eating game meat.

Now remember we said above there are at least 10M children that are families of hunters. That's about 1% are testing positive. And that is using the assumption that there is a correlation. How can there be a correlation if it's not significantly higher than the population average? Therefore I conclude that there is no correlation between eating game meat and testing positive for lead.

So what are the take ways from this? First I'm going to be doing my own studies. I have I think five different Deer in my freezer right now. There are ways you can test your food for lead. A little bit of Google searching and I came up with several different methods.

I'm going to stop feeding my baby venison until I do my own testing any maybe until I get some Deer shot with non-lead ammo. Do I think this is a cause for panic? Absolutely not. We've been eating food shot with lead bullets for hundreds of years. But we also used to put lead in paint and pipes. We learn from our mistakes (or at least those with lower lead levels do). I think we need to push our federal government for a comprehensive study on the use of lead bullets. We as consumers need to begin to press manufactures to begin exploring alternatives.

What we don't need is government regulation. We need to let the market sort this out. The government should provide the studies and resources for the market to react to. If those studies and resources determine a real problem then let the market find the solution. That is how true innovation works. The market as a whole has significantly more resources to explore alternatives. People as a whole will educate themselves and choose the best bullet. It may not be a one size fits all solution. Very similar to what we are doing with wind and solar energy. That my friends is what we are about here at Hunting Tactical. New technology, new innovation, and improving Hunting.

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