Toronto: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) must ban the use of lead shot used in the biathlon shooting events to prevent wildlife poisoning and health threats to surface and groundwater, says a paper.
“Thousands of tonnes of lead shot, discharged every year during training by Olympic shooters, pose a threat to birds and mammals and water resources,” said Vernon Thomas, professor emeritus at University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.
Thomas said the Winter Olympic biathlon now in Sochi Games is not the problem as lead shot is recovered and recycled from targets.
The real problem stems from athletes training between the Olympic Games.
Thomas said each Olympic shooter discharges more than a ton of lead shot each year on and around practice shooting ranges.
“The real concern is the amount of shot released during the four-year interval by the many hopefuls in each country and the Olympic team members of each country,” he added.
This lead shot is rarely recovered and poses real toxic risks to wildlife that may ingest it and to groundwater quality, he cautioned.
He said non-toxic substitutes - especially steel shot - have been available for about two decades.
Only lead shot is approved by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), which regulates Olympic trap and skeet shooting events.
If the IOC were to ban the use of lead shot, all Olympic shooting and qualification events worldwide would have to use non-toxic shot, he said in a report published in the journal Environmental Policy and Law.