Lead contamination at gun clubs and firing ranges is an environmental problem that requires focused attention. Why is lead a concern at gun clubs and firing ranges?
According to the EPA’s Best Management Practices:
It is estimated that approximately four percent (4%) (80,000 tons/year) of all the lead produced in the United States in the late 1990’s (about 2 million tons/year), is made into bullets and shot. Taking into account rounds used off-range, and rounds used at indoor ranges, it is clear that much of this 160,000,000 pounds of lead shot/bullets finds its way into the environment at ranges.
A report form the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies indicates a high risk of transport of lead in suspension in areas less than ¼ mile from a body of water.
EPA – Best Management Practices states the following site characteristics that may lead to increased potential for lead pollution:
- Lead reacts more readily and may become more mobile under acidic (pH < 6) conditions. In general, soils in the eastern US tend to be acidic.
- During and after periods of rain, stormwater runoff may wash lead particles or lead compounds off the range. If there are surface water bodies such as lakes, rivers, or wetlands downgradient, the potential for lead to adversely affect the surrounding environment is even greater.
- On-site or contiguous surface water bodies: VERY high potential for contamination when shot fall zone is located over or adjacent to water; increased wildlife exposure; increased lead dissolution.
The following photo, from Prime Hook shooting range in Delaware, illustrates the extent that lead shot can accumulate at shooting ranges that do not use proper lead containment practices: