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Water: Fish & Shellfish

Humans and Lead Fishing Sinkers

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If you manufacture lead fishing sinkers, jigs, or spinnerbaits at home, you may be exposing yourself and your family to lead.

Lead, when melted, can produce airborne particles that can move around your house. These lead particles can be small and spread far distances. They can cover everything–soil, dust, walls, floors, furniture, clothing, toys, stuffed animals, etc.

Because of the potential for lead exposure, EPA strongly advises against home manufacturing of lead sinkers and jigs. Visit EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics for more information about lead.

While the best solution is to not manufacture at home–at a minimum, you can help protect you and your family against the potential for lead poisoning by:

  • Getting your blood tested and your family's blood tested for lead. Children under the age of six, particularly children who are crawling or are just starting to walk, are especially at risk because lead contaminated dust can get on their hands. Lead is then taken into the body when the child repeatedly puts hands and fingers in their mouth.
  • Keeping children's toys out of work areas.
  • Setting up your shop in a building that is detached from your house.
  • Shower and change clothing, especially shoes which can carry lead dust, before entering a home where children live.
  • Working in a well-ventilated area.
  • Using a fume hood with a micron filter while working with lead to capture small particles of lead.
  • Wearing a respirator mask with a filter.
  • Keeping your work area clean.
  • Cleaning the floors and walls with a household soap or detergent and water to reduce the amount of lead dust.
Lead can cause brain and nerve damage, slowed growth in children, and reproductive problems and high blood pressure in adults. Children and babies (even before they are born) are especially sensitive to lead poisoning because their bodies are still growing rapidly.

Others precautions you can follow to minimize lead exposure:

  • Never put a lead sinker in your mouth or bite down on slip shot - use a pair of pliers instead!
  • Always wash you hands thoroughly after handling lead sinkers or cleaning out your tackle box.
  • Consider using a non-lead alternative. Sinkers, including split shots, are now available in less toxic compounds sush as tin, bismuth, and tungsten. Ask your local tackle shop or retailer to carry non-lead alternatives. Check out some environmental reasons to switch.


Lead Sinkers and Animals

EPA's Office of Pollution, Prevention and Toxics Substances


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