Why Do Fishing Lures Have Cancer Warnings? (Explained!)

It is not uncommon to find a lot of fishing lures containing labels that the lures can cause cancer and congenital disabilities. 

In this article, you will find out why these fishing lures have cancer warnings.

You will also find answers to various questions on fishing lures’ toxicity and cancer risk.

Here is why fishing lures have cancer warnings:

The major reason you’ll find fishing lures having cancer warnings is that some of the materials used to make them contain carcinogens. A carcinogen is a substance that causes cancer. 

Another reason why they contain cancer warnings is because of the laws and regulations of the state where the lures are made.

Are fishing lures toxic?

This largely depends on the materials and chemicals used to produce the fishing lures. Some fishing lures may be harmful, particularly those made from lead and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Also, chemicals like dioxins and phthalate in materials used to make fishing lures are toxic.

These chemicals can be harmful to humans when exposed to the environment.

They are not only toxic to humans but also toxic to animals. Fishing lures, especially soft plastic lures that have been lost in water, can be dangerous to fish and kill them when eaten.

To prevent this, it is better to get fishing lures made with biodegradable plastic like ElaZtech that will break down easily, unlike PVC.

Can fishing lures cause cancer?

Whether or not fishing lures can cause cancer also depends on the material they are made from and the number of toxic chemicals they contain.

Here are some common cancer-causing materials and chemicals found in fishing lures.

  1. Lead

Lead is a heavy metal element found in the earth’s crust. It is cheap and highly resistant to corrosion, useful for outer coverage.

Manufacturing companies have used lead for decades, and it is sometimes used in fishing lures.

Although lead is a very cheap option, it can cause cancer. Over time, exposure to lead can cause lead poisoning, which is the absorption of lead into the body.

You may be wondering if fishing lures containing lead can potentially cause cancer.

Even though the risk is minimal to an extent, fishing lures containing lead can still cause cancer. One way this can happen is by ingestion of the lures. 

Although this is very unlikely, some categories of people are more prone to lead exposure from fishing lures. They include,

  • Children

Children are at risk of biting and chewing fishing lures. 

The World Health Organization agrees that young children are more prone to cancer caused by lead ingestion. When children ingest a lead material, they absorb the lead about 4-5 times compared to an adult that consumes the same. 

So it is best to keep fishing lures containing lead out of their reach.

  • Fishing lures makers

Those who make fishing lures may be more prone to lead exposure from inhaling lead particles while making the lures.

Such persons should work in a well-ventilated room and wear appropriate gear like a respirator.

  • People with pica

Pica is a compulsive eating disorder where a person craves things that are not meant to be eaten and offer no nutritional benefit like ice, plastic, wood, and so on. It is common in young children and pregnant women.

People diagnosed with pica who crave non-food items like a fishing lure will have to be more concerned and careful of exposure to lead from the lure.

  1. Dioxin

Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical that has been affirmed as a cancer-causing agent by the United States Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some fishing lures materials like PVC used in making soft plastic lures contain dioxin. Dioxin is a by-product of PVC and can be very harmful when exposed to humans and animals.

The chances of fishing lures causing cancer because of dioxin are pretty low. According to the World Health Organization, everyone has a background exposure to dioxins which is not expected to cause any health problem like cancer. 

However, the risk increases when burning fishing lures made from PVC

Burning PVC tends to release toxic dioxins. So if you love making fishing lures as a hobby and it would involve melting PVC plastic, you have to be more careful about your exposure to dioxins.

  1. Phthalates

These are chemicals that can also be found in plastic lures. Phthalates are popularly used to make plastic flexible, transparent, and durable.

However, they are considered human carcinogens. 

They are also known as “everywhere chemicals” because they can be found anywhere, and it is almost impossible to avoid being exposed to them.

Phthalates can be absorbed into the body by consuming products containing them. You may have to worry about fishing lures causing cancer due to phthalates if you are eating fishing lures, which is unlikely.

Again, do not forget to keep fishing lures likely to contain phthalate out of reach of children.

  1. PVC (polyvinyl chloride)

PVC is a plastic material popularly used in manufacturing some fishing lures.

PVC is toxic, increasing exposure to dioxins and phthalates. According to the World Health Organization’s International Agency For Research on Cancer, vinyl chloride used in making PVC can cause cancer.

Fishing lures makers are even at higher risk of exposure to the carcinogens released from heating PVC plastic to make the lures. It is ideal to heat the plastic in a well-ventilated room and wear a respirator while heating it to minimize this risk.

Do fishing lures have lead?

Yes. Some fishing lures contain lead. The coating of some fishing lures hooks may also contain lead. However, it is unlikely for the hooks to contain an amount of lead that will make them dangerous and raise concerns.

Also, not all fishing lures have lead.

If you are concerned about your fishing lures having lead or not, there are ways to tell. For instance,

  • If you scratch your fishing lure on a paper, and the lure stains the paper leaving a mark on it, it most likely contains lead.
  • Also, if you can create a dent in your lure with your fingernails or pliers, it may contain lead.

If you are worried about lead in your fishing lures, you can always purchase non-lead fishing lures made from alternative materials like tungsten, tin, steel, bismuth, and lead-free pewter.


Fishers often question if fishing lures are harmful and can cause cancer because of the cancer warnings on them.

In most cases, cancer warnings are written on the lures just for humans to be aware that they contain carcinogens and take necessary precautions.

Even though fishing lures may contain cancer-causing materials and chemicals, some of which are examined in this article, the likelihood of getting cancer from owning a fishing lure is very low. Consider that countless materials surrounding you, even in your home, are also made from similar materials and still present a significantly low cancer risk.

 As long as you are not eating the lures, you should be fine.