Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 409, Issue 7, pp 1877–1885 | Cite as

Detection of lead nanoparticles in game meat by single particle ICP-MS following use of lead-containing bullets

  • Barbro Kollander
  • Fredrik Widemo
  • Erik Ågren
  • Erik H. Larsen
  • Katrin LoeschnerEmail author
Research Paper


This study investigated whether game meat may contain nanoparticles of lead from ammunition. Lead nanoparticles in the range 40 to 750 nm were detected by ICP-MS in single particle mode in game shot with lead-containing bullets. The median diameter of the detected nanoparticles was around 60 nm. The particle mass concentration ranged from 290 to 340 ng/g meat and the particle number concentrations from 27 to 50 million particles/g meat. The size limit of detection strongly depended on the level of dissolved lead and was in the range of 40 to 80 nm. In game meat sampled more than 10 cm away from the wound channel, no lead particles with a diameter larger than 40 nm were detected. In addition to dissolved lead in meat that originated from particulates, the presence of lead nano particles in game meat represents a hitherto unattended source of lead with a largely unknown toxicological impact to humans.

Graphical Abstract

Detection of lead nanoparticles in game meat by single particle ICP-MS following use of leadcontaining bullets


Lead nanoparticles Single particle ICP-MS Lead ammunition Game Enzymatic digestion 



We thank Marianne Hansen for her assistance during the study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Samples were collected from animals already harvested through regular hunting for obtaining game meat and regulating populations. Thus, no ethical permits were needed (Swedish Animal Welfare legislation, 2016).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Food AgencyUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental StudiesSwedish University of Agriculture ScienceUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Swedish Association for Hunting and Wildlife ManagementÖster MalmaNyköpingSweden
  4. 4.National Veterinary Institute, Department of Pathology and Wildlife DiseasesNational Veterinary InstituteUppsalaSweden
  5. 5.Division for Food Technology, National Food InstituteTechnical University of DenmarkSøborgDenmark

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