California Lead Ban – Frequently Asked Questions

lead-sinkers-300x223What is the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)?
According to their website, the mission of DTSC is to “protect California’s people and environment from harmful effects of toxic substances by restoring contaminated resources, enforcing hazardous waste laws, reducing hazardous waste generation, and encouraging the manufacture of chemically safer products.”

What is the Safer Consumer Products program?
The Safer Consumer Products program is supposed to reduce toxic chemicals in the products that consumers buy and use. Under this program, the DTSC has listed lead fishing tackle as a “product of concern.”

Why is lead fishing tackle a Product of Concern?
In its elemental form, lead can be harmful to people and the environment. However, the processed lead found in fishing gear and sinkers has a different chemical behavior and has not shown to be harmful to public health or to wildlife at a population level.

Have there been any scientific studies that show lead fishing tackle is a hazard to wildlife?
No. In fact, in spite of laws requiring the DTSC to conduct such studies, they have provided no scientific evidence that lead fishing tackle should be a cause for concern. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly turned down proposals banning lead, citing that such plans are scientifically unjustified.

Can sinkers and other tackle be made from other materials?
Yes. Materials such as steel, tin, tungsten, bismuth, and brass could be used for sinkers but none of them give the same dollar-for-dollar performance as lead.

Is fishing tackle made from these other materials more expensive?
Yes. The price of some types of gear could increase ten to twenty fold. For example, if made of tungsten, the 23 cent lead bullet sinker in your tackle box would cost $3.49 and a 20 cent jig could cost as much as $6.99! Some alternate materials are so hard to work with that manufacturers say they would have to stop production.


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