A scientist with Parks Canada is warning hunters to think twice before using lead shot for ammunition while hunting.

Darroch Whitaker, an ecosystems scientist with Parks Canada at Gros Morne National Park, said the lead is harmful for both people and other animals, and there is no safe level of exposure.

"Certainly in a case like hunting where you're using it to shoot your food, and then other animals may be scavenging the carcasses that are left in the woods … that's potentially cause for concern," Whitaker said.

According to Whitaker, the bullet doesn't remain intact when it hits the animal and small pieces can remain behind.

"When the bullet strikes the animal, the bullet expands and all that soft lead fragments, and typically you wind up with hundreds of small fragments of lead that's almost like ground pepper that's gone through the meat," he said.

"It's not good enough to think you'll see that bullet and pull it out and you won't eat it. And even a few small fragments — tiny fragments like ground pepper — is enough to start causing problems."

Whitaker said the effects on people are usually minimal because of their mass, but it could still have cognitive effects and is dangerous for children and pregnant women.

He encouraged the use of copper ammunition as an alternative to lead.