EPA Moves Could Leave Many Lead Users with a Sinking Feeling

Article excerpt

The ubiquitous lead sinker and lead jig may become endangered species.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a rule that eventually will eliminate lead fishing tackle items, including weights and jigs. Zinc and brass lures and weights would be banned, too.

The ban is being proposed because these heavy metal fishing items, such as split shot, lost by anglers are being eaten by water birds as food or grit. The soft metal is broken down in the birds' digestive systems and turned into salts, which are a strong poison. One small ingested sinker of zinc, brass or lead can kill a bird.

Lead tackle already has been banned at Yellowstone National Park and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Montana and all over England.

The move to ban so many lead tackle items has been called excessive by the prestigious Sport Fishing Institute, an organization of state and private conservation organizations. It urges more research and the possible restriction of small weights shown to poison birds.

The EPA's proposed rule would "prohibit all persons from manufacturing, professing, distributing (selling) and importing any lead or zinc-containing fishing sinker (including brass) that is one inch or under in any direction." This rules out almost everything, including large saltwater weights which weigh several ounces.

The EPA also is considering banning the private making of lead fishing tackle items such as jigs and weights. Many anglers cast jigs and sinkers at home as a hobby or to save money.

An EPA "Environmental Fact Sheet" issued recently says this:

"EPA is also concerned about exposures (via lead fumes or dust when melting or pouring lead) to adults and children when lead fishing sinkers are made at home. …