If you open up any anglers tackle box, odds are there is a toxic heavy metal present in their collection.
Lead is often the main component in our sinkers, weights, and jigs.
"With lead fishing tackle we find that tackle falls off, it breaks off, it gets snagged, and it get ingested either by fish, by water foul, by small mammals." says Brett Amundson, the Operations Directer at Hartley Nature Center.
We have already discontinued using lead paints and lead in our gasoline.But when we head out on the lake we continue to buy and use lead products that end up in our waters.
Russ Francisco of Marine General says "In our generation we're not worried about lead because lead is not a big problem in the water but 1000 years from now it could be a problem for people."
Not a problem for people, but a growing number of waterfowl and fish are dying from lead poisoning.And with a growing number of people fishing, lead is building up on the bottom of our lakes.
"In reality we dump probably 2 tons of lead in the bottom of Lake Superior every year in down rigger weights." Says Francisco.
To help cut the amount of lead in our water there are other options when you go to the bait shop.
"Bismuth, tin, steel." suggested by Brett
All are non–toxic to the animals susceptible to accidentally ingesting our lures.
But how much of the lead ends up in our tap water?
"The quantity we would get of a dissolved lead out of the water would be pretty minute." says Brett
That's because lead doesn't readily dissolve in water, but needs to be directly ingested.But some anglers can still be ingesting lead without even knowing it.
"And I think about all the fisherman who bite their sinker and bite their lures and you can get flecks of lead and that lead paint into your system and if you get a big quantity out of it, it can be toxic." said Brett
In Duluth, Adam Lorch, the Northlands News Center.
To avoid ingesting lead it is recommended to always use pliers to attach sinkers and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your fishing equipment.