Environmental Lead Contamination; Not Just a Threat to Man
Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of lead, to some degree. Many know that it’s harmful but most are unaware of the fact that lead exposure can result in high blood pressure, irritability, joint pain, headaches, memory loss, and severe damage to the reproductive and nervous system. In children lead can impact proper bone and muscle growth, as well as causing learning disabilities and damage to the central nervous system.
Unfortunately, lead isn’t limited to causing damage to humans. Almost any animal including birds, mammals, and reptiles can suffer the effects of lead poisoning. Family pets such as cats and dogs are in great danger of lead poisoning from lead-glazed food dishes, paint chips and dust, golf balls, fishing sinkers, and even from contaminated soil! Because dogs and cats both often lick themselves to groom, they are in danger of ingesting high amounts of lead dust or lead contaminated soil.
Cattle are also highly susceptible to lead poisoning. In fact, lead is the number one cause of in the US. Cattle, especially young calves, will readily lick and chew lead from batters, plumbing, engine oil, and even spent lead shot found in the soil. Lead poisoning in cattle will cause severe anemia and damage to the kidneys and liver. If left unchecked, the poisoning will progress to inducing seizures, sterility, and death.
Birds are also in great danger of lead poisoning as a direct result of soil being contaminated with spent lead shot. Large birds such as ducks, geese, and chickens routinely swallow beakfulls of dirt, or grit. This grit collects in a special organ called the gizzard where it helps to break down the bird’s food. Often, birds will accidentally swallow . The pellets then build up in the gizzard and can lead to acute lead poisoning. Lead shot contaminated soil is a threat to water fowl and birds of prey alike, even the eagle and hawk.
Because so many animals are threatened by lead in the environment, it makes remediation of these contaminated areas even more important. That’s why at MT2 our patented system of not only removes lead shot and scrap from the soil but also neutralizes any lead particles left behind. The separated lead is then responsibly recycled and treated soil may be placed back where it was collected.
We specialize in the remediation of shooting ranges, demolition sites, scrap yards, and anywhere else lead has contaminated the soil. If you would like to know more about our services, we invite you to visit our website. Additionally, you may with any questions or comments.
There are some 18,000 shooting ranges in the United States, both public sports ranges and private training ranges for police and military uses. The gun industry employs 210,000 people and contributes more than $32 billion to the economy.
Health Impacts from Lead Contamination:
With all those billions of rounds of ammunition fired in gun ranges, the heavy metal contamination of outdoor gun range land and the surfaces of indoor gun ranges are now significant. Lead exposure and contamination has become a serious health concern.
Studies of indoor firing ranges by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that
- Thousands of employees had elevated lead levels in their blood.
- One study found employees tested during the cleaning and renovation of a shooting range, 46% of those working on the cleaning (both range employees and construction workers) had elevated blood lead levels.
- Even the families of those employed at the gun range are at risk. Testing found that of four construction workers, three children and two adult family members tested for elevated blood lead levels.
Effects on the Environment:
The environmental Working Group estimates that firing ranges put more lead into the environment than any other US industry, with the exception of mining and manufacturing.
- Tens of billions of rounds of ammunition fired every year translates to hundreds of tons of lead per day.
Lead, one of the most environmentally sensitive metals, has been the metal of choice for bullet manufacture.
- Many bullets are jacketed in copper which makes them more environmentally sensitive in wet soils because of the galvanic corrosion potential of the copper.
- Bullets that don’t stay intact, usually bullets from rifles, expose maximum lead to the soil over a larger surface area.
- In outdoor ranges, where soil may be wet, the lead contamination may spread into water tables.
The Environmental Protection Agency recently developed four point guidelines for the reclamation of firing ranges.
- Sift munitions fragments from the soil. These fragments can be recycled (Recycling lead fragments can be lucrative. Estimates are that shooting range owners recover millions of dollars’ worth of metals from cleanups. Recycling also exempts the contamination from hazardous waste reporting and management requirements).
- Analyze samples of the remaining soil to determine how much contamination has leached away. If leachable level is below the approved EPA limit no further action is needed. Proper testing methods must be used.
- Analyze the soil in layers to assess the extent of downward contamination.
- Treat or dispose of contaminated soil in a hazardous waste landfill or use on-site stabilization, solidification, and soil washing techniques.
MT2, LLC is the nation’s#1 ranked professional environmental firing Range Contractor with seven locations across the country. To lean more, please contact us.