Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Do lead bullets continue to be a hazard after they land?

02.11.2004


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.



Professor James Craig, now retired, and Rimstidt looked first at lead corrosion and whether lead is leaching into the water table or streams. "Lead metal is unstable when it is in contact with air and water. It corrodes and forms hydrocerrussite, the white coating seen on old bullets in museums. That slows corrosion," Rimstidt said.

However some lead escapes, he said. "But we learned that it is absorbed in the top few inches of soil and does not migrate beyond that," Rimstidt said. "Lead is not very mobile. It does not wash away in surface or ground water."

Another finding is that there are large amounts of lead in the trees near the shooting range – but not in a large percentage of the trees, Rimstidt said. "If and when those trees are harvested, they would be contaminated with lead "

Fisheries and Wildlife Professor Pat Scanlon was an investigator on the project until his death in 2003. "He found no evidence that birds eating shot, but this portion of the research was not completed," Rimstidt said. "We are not saying that wildlife would not ingest lead, but it does not appear to be a problem on this range. Other shooting ranges may be different."

Rimstidt will give their recommendations to the Forest Service representatives so they can develop best management practices. "They already knew to put lime on the range to limit corrosion, to take measures to prevent soil erosion, and now, to keep track of the trees if they are cut. They are the experts in management. I will give them the facts and they will make the decisions," Rimstidt said.

Rimstidt’s conclusion is that shooting on controlled ranges reduces the overall risk to the public from lead in the environment.

Susan Trulove | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.vt.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University

nachricht From the Arctic to the tropics: researchers present a unique database on Earth’s vegetation
20.11.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

Inaugural "Virtual World Tour" scheduled for december

28.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new molecular player involved in T cell activation

07.12.2018 | Life Sciences

High-temperature electronics? That's hot

07.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

Supercomputers without waste heat

07.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>