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Recycle A to Z

Lead Fishing Weights (Non-Ferrous Metal)

Lead is a naturally occurring non-ferrous metal found in the earth’s crust. It has been used in commercial and household products for thousands of years. In the past lead was used in paint, gasoline, pottery, water pipes and other products. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body. Children and adults can get lead poisoning though ingesting (eating) or inhaling (breathing) materials or dusts that contain lead). There is no safe level of lead. When lead is absorbed, it has an adverse affect on your nervous systems. Animals are also adversely affected from inhaling or ingesting lead.

Medical research shows that lead can harm human health even at low exposure levels.

Lead poisoning is widespread and preventable. Some of the adverse effects of lead include learning abnormalities and behavioral problems in children. Kids are more vulnerable to lead than adults; but lead effects all human health and the environment. Lead, is one of the most hazardous, toxic metals because of its ability to accumulate as it is absorbed in a body. Lead also has a long life in the environment.

Alternatives to lead sinkers and jigs include steel, bismuth, tin, tungsten, alloys of these metals, and metal/plastic or metal/ceramic combinations. Caution: Avoid zinc fishing weights; they are sufficiently toxic to threaten aquatic birds. Every year over 60 tons of lead fishing weights are left in Washington State waters.

What You Can Do

  • If you still use lead weights—do not let children handle lead weights and never put lead sinkers in your mouth.
  • Stop using lead weights, including lead weighted jigs and lead-weighted lures.
  • Buy lead-free tackle from retailers that stock lead-free tackle or ask your current retailer to stock lead-free tackle products.
  • Recover snagged tackle—hooks, lures and monofilament are hazards to wildlife, whether or not they are made with lead.
  • Encourage fellow anglers to follow your example.

Where else is lead is found?

  • Paint—Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint.
  • Toys and Toy Jewelry—Some toys and toy jewelry have been found to contain levels of lead that can pose a serious health risk to children.
  • Drinking water—Your home may have plumbing which used lead or lead solder. Call Clark County Public Health (360-397-8428) or your local water supplier for information about testing your water.
  • Soil around a home—Soil can pick up lead from exterior paint or other sources. Children playing in yards can ingest or inhale lead dust.
  • On Your Job or at Home—You should shower and change clothes after working with lead on your job or at home with a hobby (e.g., pottery or stained glass). Also launder any lead contaminated clothes separately.
  • Containers Food and liquids stored in lead glazed pottery or porcelain or lead crystal can become contaminated from lead leaching from these containers.

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