The impact of bullet fragments on lead contamination of game meat
Project code: MRI-FL-08-4037
Contract period: 01.02.2014 - 31.12.2016
Purpose of research: Applied research
Depending on shape and construction the bullets of hunting ammunition are deformed after penetrating the animal`s body, spreading myriads of particles in a broad spectrum of weight. The major part of the projectile however leaves the body again. Since during the consumption of game meat at least the smaller lead particles are dissolved completely in the acid gastric juice, they are a heavy metal source, contributing by orders of magnitude more to the total lead burden than the small “natural” lead content in the animal muscle tissue, which results from browsing. National and international studies regarding lead poisoning of sea eagles and other raptors and sometimes occurring extreme concentrations detected by foodstuff inspection authorities confirm these reports. In order to estimate the heavy metal exposure for the consumer by the ingested game meat it is necessary to know more exactly about the mass of the remaining lead particles. Due to the inhomogenous distribution of the particles random samples of muscle tissue allow only for an imperfect estimation of the lead burden caused by the bullets. It has to be considered that projectile particles may cover distances of up to 30 cm from the shot channel, so that the contaminated tissue is rather voluminous. It is intended to separate completely the consumable muscle tissue within a cylinder of 30 cm radius around the bullet channel of game (roe deer and wild boars) shot with lead containing ammunition. After dry ashing the remainder shall be dissolved and analysed for lead. According to hunting practice the muscle tissue in immediate proximity to the shot channel shall be removed and analysed separately. In order to determine the background level of lead, tissue from definitely not contaminated spots will be isolated and analysed according to the standard procedure after microwave digestion.