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Environmental Values

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Environmental Values

Attitudes and Issues Preventing Bans on Toxic Lead Shot and Sinkers in North America and Europe

Vernon G. Thomas

Environmental Values 6(1997): 185-199. doi: 10.3197/096327197776679176

It is paradoxical that lead shot and fishing sinkers are still used widely, given society's understanding of lead contamination and avian lead toxicosis. The statutory action taken by governments varies from total bans on both lead products to no regulation of either shot or sinkers. Many government agencies and field sport organisations are reluctant to use the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle and regulate use of available non-toxic substitutes. The attitudes of individuals towards their roles in environmental lead contamination and remediation reflect marked self-deception about the need for changes and the benefits to be derived from substitution. Fatal lead poisoning of highly symbolic, revered species such as British mute swans and American bald eagles promoted development of national regulations to ban lead shot and fishing weights. Despite the parallels between these countries' reforms, there has been little parity between the banning of lead shot and fishing sinkers.

KEYWORDS: Waterfowl conservation, attitudes, beliefs, lead shot and sinkers, non-toxic regulations, precautionary principle

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