- Associated Press - Saturday, November 22, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Missouri hunters likely will use lead bullets during firearm deer season this year despite potential health complications from the metal.

The Columbia Missourian reports (https://bit.ly/1pVAA6X ) little is being done in Missouri to warn hunters about the risks of lead despite efforts in other states to encourage using safer copper bullets.

Lead bullets, Carrol Henderson of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said, leave fragments of the metal after the bullets strike.

Copper bullets cost about twice as much, but tear into an intact, blossom shape on impact.

Henderson said a deer hunter might spend an extra $5 a year on copper bullets.

A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed elevated levels of lead in people who recently ate wild game shot with lead bullets, though it stopped short of saying that the meat was the only possible reason for the elevated levels.

Lead in bullets is a relatively new public health issue, but the negative mental and physical effects of lead exposure have been documented for thousands of years, according to an article from the Environmental Protection Agency. Young children are particularly at risk from lead exposure, which can impair brain development and lead to cognitive and behavioral problems.

According to the CDC’s website, no safe blood level of lead in children has been identified, and a 2005 report analyzing intellectual test scores of 1,333 children found there was “no evidence of a threshold for the adverse consequences of lead exposure.”

The Missouri Conservation Department has no regulations on lead bullets, although there are strict nontoxic shot rules for shotgun handling. The department’s website does contain a word of caution about lead exposure on a page titled “Hunter Ethics and Safety.” The paragraph devoted to lead bullets says that “lead in venison is a concern, but not a human health crisis.”

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Information from: Columbia Missourian, https://www.columbiamissourian.com

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