One of the most important environmental research projects in recent years, conducted on behalf of the lead industry by the International Lead Association (ILA), is helping the industry and regulators ensure the protection of rivers, lakes and streams from the potential risks of the metal.

A recently published ILA case study shows how a method has been developed to predict more accurately the toxicity of lead to freshwater species under different environmental conditions.

Close to $1.5m of research on the so-called biotic ligand model (BLM) for lead, managed by the International Lead Zinc Research Organization (ILZRO), is now being used by regulatory agencies around the world when setting water quality standards.

ILA Managing Director, Dr Andy Bush, said: “Thanks to the work of ILZRO the development of a BLM for lead is a significant scientific development that will help scientists and regulators protect our freshwater environments.”

The research will now form the basis for a new EU environmental quality standard for lead (Water Framework Directive and the Directive on Environmental Quality Standards [1]) and is being used extensively to underpin environmental risk assessments conducted by the industry to support EU REACH Regulations for lead metal and inorganic lead compounds. BLM data is also being assessed by regulators for use in environmental standards in Canada and USA.

The lead industry intends to continue to invest in research to refine the model and to improve the ease with it can be used by industry and regulators.


[1] On the 1st July 2013 the European Parliament finally adopted the new list of priority substances and environmental quality standards for the protection of surface waters in EU (646 votes in favour, 51 against and 14 abstentions). The Commission proposal amends the Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC) and the Directive on Environmental Quality Standards (2008/105/EC) and EU Member States will now have two years to transpose the Directives into National Law.

Notes to editors

About the ILA
The International Lead Association is a membership body that supports companies involved in the mining, smelting, refining and recycling of lead. The ILA represents the producers of about 3 million tonnes of lead.

With offices in the UK and USA the ILA provides a range of technical, scientific and communications support and is focused on all aspects of the industry’s safe production, use and recycling of lead and helps funds bodies such as the International Lead Management Center and ILZRO.

The Lead REACH Consortium is a stand-alone project of ILA-Europe and its activities are funded by 100 member companies.

ILA also supports the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, which manages the research, development and promotion of lead-based batteries for markets such as hybrid electric vehicles, start-stop automotive systems and grid-scale energy storage applications. Visit