Is there a relationship between lead exposure and aggressive behavior in shooters?

Nisha Naicker, Pieter de Jager, Shan Naidoo, Angela Mathee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Lead exposure has been associated with psycho-neurological disorders. Elevated blood lead levels have been found in shooters. This study assesses the association between the blood lead levels of shooters and their levels of aggression. An analytical cross-sectional study was conducted in Gauteng, South Africa. Participants were recruited from four randomly selected shooting ranges with three randomly selected archery ranges used as a comparison group. A total of 118 (87 shooters and 31 archers) participants were included in the analysis. Aggressiveness was measured using the Buss-Perry Aggression Questionnaire. Shooters had significantly higher blood lead levels (BLL) compared to archers with 79.8% of shooters versus 22.6% of archers found to have a BLL ≥ 5 µg/dL (p < 0.001). Aggression scores were significantly higher in shooters (p < 0.05) except for verbal aggression. In the bivariate and regression analyses, shooters with BLLs ≥ 10 µg/dL were significantly associated with the hostility sub-scale (p = 0.03, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.83, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.103–7.261). Shooters have a significantly higher BLL and aggressiveness compared to archers. However, elevated blood lead levels were significantly associated with hostility only. Interventions need to be put in place to prevent continued exposure and routine screening of populations at risk should be implemented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1427
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2018


  • Aggression
  • Blood lead levels
  • Buss-Perry aggression questionnaire
  • Shooting ranges
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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