Consumption of lead-shot cervid meat and blood lead concentrations in a group of adult Norwegians

Environ Res. 2013 Nov:127:29-39. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.08.007. Epub 2013 Oct 9.


Several recent investigations have reported high concentrations of lead in samples of minced cervid meat. This paper describes findings from a Norwegian study performed in 2012 among 147 adults with a wide range of cervid game consumption. The main aim was to assess whether high consumption of lead-shot cervid meat is associated with increased concentration of lead in blood. A second aim was to investigate to what extent factors apart from game consumption explain observed variability in blood lead levels. Median (5 and 95 percentile) blood concentration of lead was 16.6 µg/L (7.5 and 39 µg/L). An optimal multivariate linear regression model for log-transformed blood lead indicated that cervid game meat consumption once a month or more was associated with approximately 31% increase in blood lead concentrations. The increase seemed to be mostly associated with consumption of minced cervid meat, particularly purchased minced meat. However, many participants with high and long-lasting game meat intake had low blood lead concentrations. Cervid meat together with number of bullet shots per year, years with game consumption, self-assembly of bullets, wine consumption and smoking jointly accounted for approximately 25% of the variation in blood lead concentrations, while age and sex accounted for 27% of the variance. Blood lead concentrations increased approximately 18% per decade of age, and men had on average 30% higher blood lead concentrations than women. Hunters who assembled their own ammunition had 52% higher blood lead concentrations than persons not making ammunition. In conjunction with minced cervid meat, wine intake was significantly associated with increased blood lead. Our results indicate that hunting practices such as use of lead-based ammunition, self-assembling of lead containing bullets and inclusion of lead-contaminated meat for mincing to a large extent determine the exposure to lead from cervid game consumption.

Keywords: Deer; Game; Lead exposure; Moose; Risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Deer
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Food Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Lead / blood*
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Regression Analysis


  • Lead