Fellow Story

Finkelstein quoted on new petition to regulate lead in ammunition as a toxic substance

Several studies have implicated lead poisoning in deaths of the endangered California condor. A study published this year found lead poisoning was the primary cause of death in juvenile and adult condors from 1992 to 2009. A 2010 study analyzed three to four months of lead levels using condor feathers and found much higher and more frequent exposures than blood draws suggested, said Myra Finkelstein, an environmental toxicologist at UC Santa Cruz, who conducted the study. Still other work tied the chemical composition of lead found in poisoned birds with that of ammunition.

Research on other animals also links ammunition and lead poisoning. Turkey vultures and ravens show higher blood lead levels during the hunting season. One case report has documented lead poisoning from ammunition in a mountain lion, Finkelstein said. "By no means is this isolated to condors."

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