Lead poisoning doesn’t recognize boundaries


There is little doubt that this toxic substance should be completely banned for the good of both human and environmental health which, of course, are both inextricably linked. But this, unfortunately, has yet to happen.

For some years now disturbingly high levels of lead have been found in fish and other aquatic species across the country. Polar bears in Canada’s far north have been found to contain lead deposits in their tissues and further to the south, the narwhal in the St. Lawrence are dying from chemical poisoning. Lead is playing a starring role in their decreasing numbers. Many feel that the time has come to legislate a ban on any further use of this dangerous substance but there appears to be a less than concise plan of action or firm commitment on the government’s behalf to do something about it.

The Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre in central Ontario set a precedent by declaring an enforced ban on the use of lead shot within its boundaries back in the early 1990’s. It was the first wetland in the country to declare itself a toxic free zone. Today many across the country are saying that we should follow the Wye Marsh’s visionary decision and ban it outright.

Currently, in many streams and wetlands in Ontario and across Canada ducks, geese and swans that forage for food or bits of gravel in these locations ( the gravel is consumed for digestion purposes) are ending up dead or severely affected by ingesting lead pellets.  To a lesser extent mammals that prey on species that ingest lead pellets such as fish, frogs etc, can also become contaminated with lead.

It is ironic that the use of lead piping was discontinued in houses and for other domestic uses at least 50 years ago because of the proven health risk to humans, yet lax environmental laws still allow it to be pumped out into the environment by the ton so that it contaminates wildlife, water systems, and human beings.

The proven health risks from lead are well-documented but unfortunately our wildlife and human life continue to suffer from its ill effects. The time has now come to ban its use outright in situations where it is being discharged directly into the environment.


© Copyright 2010 Bill Leeming - All Rights Reserved