There were 20 million metric tons of lead bullets fired in the United States in the 20th century. Is that lead having an environmental impact? Not at or near the U.S. Forest Service firing range near Blacksburg, Va., according to research by Virginia Tech geological scientists. Donald Rimstidt, a professor in the Department of Geosciences, College of Science at Virginia Tech will report the conclusions of a five-year study at the 116th national meeting of the Geological Sciences of America in Denver Nov. 7-10.
There are 9,000 nonmilitary shooting ranges and a lot of military ones in the United States. Some 60,000 metric tons of lead are expended by shooting. (a metric ton or "long ton" is 2,200 lbs.). "So there is lead shot and bullets everywhere," Rimstidt said. "We were invited by the U.S. Forest Service to look at the shooting range in the National Forest near Blacksburg."
The researchers’ survey found 11 metric tons of shot in the shotgun range and 12 metric tons of lead bullets in the rifle range. "These ranges are 10 years old. Most of the lead shot has accumulated on about four or five acres. Some shots have been into the woods, which cover hundreds of acres," Rimstidt said.
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