ECHA’s Committees for Socio-Economic Analysis and Risk Assessment back the proposed restriction on the use of lead in ammunition for hunting, outdoor sports shooting and in fishing. The restriction could prevent over 600 000 tonnes of lead from being released into the environment, save millions of birds from lead poisoning and protect children in hunter families.
The Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted its final opinion on the proposed restriction covering the use of lead projectiles for hunting and outdoor sports shooting, as well as lead used in fishing sinkers and lures. The Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) adopted its opinion on the same proposal in June 2022.
RAC considered that the use of lead in these activities poses risks to wildlife, people and the environment that are not adequately controlled. Both committees agreed that a restriction under the REACH Regulation is the most appropriate EU-wide measure to address the risks. SEAC concluded that the proposed restriction can be considered proportionate after evaluating the costs and benefits to society. It also highlighted that some of the benefits were not quantified but are likely to be significant – for example the benefits of avoiding the poisoning of predatory birds.
María Ottati, the Chair of SEAC says: “We have looked at the impacts of the restriction from many sides, not just the potential costs for shooters and fishers. We have analysed whether hunting as an activity will be affected and expect there to be no long-term drop. We have looked at the availability of shooting ranges for military training, the supply of lead ammunition for non-civilian use and at the economic impacts of installing the proposed lead containment measures at shooting ranges. Based on the available information, we consider the proposed restriction to be proportionate and the most appropriate way of addressing the risks.”
RAC has also adopted a supplementary opinion on risks for human health from lead in game meat. This opinion is based on an evaluation of comments and evidence from the public submitted to ECHA during a consultation, which ran from July to October 2022. The consultation focused on data from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that was used in the risk assessment underpinning the proposal. RAC’s supplementary opinion confirms the conclusions of the original opinion.
“We have thoroughly looked at EFSA’s data again and all the consultation input and consider there to be a moderate to high risk from eating lead-contaminated game meat for children in hunter families. The risks for adults are likely to be low. Overall, RAC supports a transition to more sustainable outdoor shooting and fishing to protect the environment and people’s health,” says Tim Bowmer, the Chair of RAC.
Both committees make recommendations to modify the conditions of the proposed restriction. Both suggest, for example, that the transition period before the restriction starts applying for lead gunshot in hunting could be shorter than the five years originally proposed. The main recommendations of the committees are available in the Q&A. The combined RAC and SEAC opinion and the RAC’s supplementary opinion will be published in early 2023.
Following the adoption of SEAC’s opinion and of RAC’s supplementary opinion, ECHA will send the opinions of both committees and the proposed restriction to the European Commission. This will take place in early 2023.
The Commission will then decide whether a restriction is necessary. If so, it will make a proposal to amend the list of restrictions (Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation). The proposal will be voted on by the EU Member States in the REACH Committee and scrutinised by the European Parliament and Council before adoption into law.
In January 2021, ECHA made a proposal for an EU-wide restriction on the use of lead in ammunition for outdoor shooting and in fishing at the request of the Commission. The proposed restriction would phase out over a period of up to five years the use of most kinds of lead ammunition for hunting, the use of lead gunshot for sports shooting and the use of lead in fishing sinkers and lures. The proposal allows the use of lead ammunition to continue for outdoor sports shooting with rifles and pistols where risks are appropriately managed.
If adopted, the restriction would reduce lead emissions to the environment by approximately 630 000 tonnes over the 20-year period following its introduction. This is a reduction of 72 % compared to a situation without a restriction. This would prevent the poisoning of wildlife, including many endangered species, and protect children and pregnant women in hunter families from exposure to lead.
A potential regulation on lead in these activities is in line with the EU’s Green Deal, its Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Biodiversity 2030 Strategy. It would broaden an existing restriction on lead gunshot in wetlands.
Military uses of lead ammunition, along with other non-civilian uses of lead ammunition such as by police, security and customs forces, are outside of the scope of the restriction proposal. Indoor uses of lead ammunition are also excluded.
- Questions & answers about the opinions [PDF][EN]
- Frequently asked questions about the proposed restriction
- Topical page: Lead in shot, bullets and fishing weights
- Proposed restriction and RAC’s opinion
- Committee for Risk Assessment
- Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis
- REACH restriction process