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Ecohealth. 2008 Sep;5(3):379-85. doi: 10.1007/s10393-008-0177-x. Epub 2008 May 28.

Lead poisoning: using transdisciplinary approaches to solve an ancient problem.

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Wildlife Clinic and Center for Conservation Medicine, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536, USA.


Conservation medicine examines the linkages among the health of people, animals, and the environment. Few issues illustrate this approach better than an examination of lead (Pb) toxicity. Lead is cheap and there is a long tradition of its use. But the toxic effects of Pb have also been recognized for many years. As a result, western societies have eliminated or greatly reduced many traditional uses of Pb, including many paints, gasoline, and solders because of threats to the health of humans and the environment. Legislation in several countries has eliminated the use of lead shot for hunting waterfowl. Despite these advances, a great many Pb products continue to be readily available. For example, wildlife agencies recognize that angling and shooting sports deposit thousands of tons of Pb into the environment each year. In recent years, our knowledge of the lethal and sublethal effects of Pb has grown dramatically. This discussion reviews the effects of lead on wildlife, humans, and domestic animals. It also discusses the importance of bringing together all interest groups to find safe alternatives, to develop new educational and policy initiatives, to eliminate many current uses of Pb, and to clean up existing problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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