Safety is the most important concern for everyone who visits a firing range. In order to ensure a safe experience regular is a necessity. Firing ranges face increasing scrutiny for the effect they have on the environment. A key aspect of maintaining a firing range is the recovery of lead from the soil, and minimizing the impact lead has on the environment.
Outdoor firing range maintenance necessitates the removal of lead to prevent accumulation of lead particles within the soil. Total bullet recovery will not prevent the buildup of lead in the soil. A published in 2004 by researchers in the Soil and Water Science Department at the University of Florida demonstrated that 41 milligrams of lead were lost from each bullet fired into a berm composed of fine sand. This accounts for 1.5 percent of the bullet’s total mass. Some of the larger fragments may be sifted from the soil, but fine lead fragments and dust will remain.
Even with a rigorous lead recovery plan, range and berm soil should be regularly tested for lead content. Lead particles that remain in the soil will corrode, creating soluble elements which can permeate into the groundwater. Additives can be used to immobilize the lead within the soil and prevent it from leaching below the water table. Routine de-leading practices will go far in preventing lead accumulation, but soil remediation can go further to prevent lead leaking into the groundwater.
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