Hello! Outdoor firing range here. So, you want to protect me from the dangerous effects of lead contamination? Good move! Protecting me protects YOU! I don’t want to poison you, but leaving spent bullets behind can cause potentially toxic lead to leech into the ground or otherwise leave me. The lead may contaminate my soil and my water. This may impact my wildlife and humans too, or impact my neighbors. You can possibly get an acute (sudden) toxic dose of lead or suffer permanent health effects over time. The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way because lead poisoning is preventable! To stay safe, you must clean me up and keep me clean. To do this, you need a responsible, ongoing management plan also known as an Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP). I’ve compiled some basic information to get your started!
Throughout the last 20 years, we have begun to see the effects of mass pollution all around us. Poisonous waterways, species extinction, and new forming health problems are arising from human caused pollution in the natural environment.
Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) involves taking the necessary steps in removing and reducing waste, pollution, and any occupational health and safety hazard that may be present in order to protect everyone and the environment around us. One area of human activity that needs improving is the potential lead contamination at firing ranges. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, lead can be a harmful metal if inhaled or ingested. An interesting fact is that lead is found in ammunition, used in the primer. When a bullet is discharged from a gun, heat is created. This converts the lead from a solid to airborne particles that can be breathed in, entering the lungs to be absorbed into the bloodstream. After continuous exposure, lead poisoning is a risk. Another place lead accumulates in your firing range is at backstops. Everyone should consider proper monitoring and maintenance at both indoor and outdoor firing ranges, and don’t worry, learning how to set up easy protocols is very simple.
An ESP can give you the guidelines for protection you need to keep everyone safe and help the environment in return. The benefits to consider when deciding whether this pertains to you include the following.
- What lead preventative measures can you establish to benefit your employees and customers? The National Shooting Sports Foundation lists several improvements OSHA recommends and requires for lead control in indoor shooting facilities. They include airborne lead monitoring, ventilation, bullet traps, non-lead ammunition, regular cleaning, training, proper protective clothing, and respirators.
- Can you implement conservation efforts to help lead pollution at you firing range? Taking on the task of monitoring the soil in an outdoor shooting range can be a drastic conservation effort. The accumulation of lead can leach into the soil and eventually end up in a water source. The EPA limit of lead contamination in soil is 5 mg/L according to a Princeton publication. If the tested soil results higher than 5, treatment methods should be put into place.
- What are the economic benefits involved in a ESP? The economic benefit of reducing lead poisoning is your health. A study from the Blacksmith Institute showed that 2.8% of heath care costs in the United States is contributed to environmental exposure of pollutants, such as lead. For more information relating to general OSHA lead regulations, click here.
It is much simpler and less expensive to commit to environmental awareness and employ conservation measures before you are sanctioned.
Proactive conservation is easier and more economical than clean-up after contamination; known as remediation. It is much less complex and less expensive to achieve and maintain voluntary regulatory compliance before you are penalized and forced to comply. Did you know the EPA has a list of fugitives? I know, right? I didn’t either! It makes sense! There are laws to protect our environment. I guess we’d better get started! First,
- Bone up! Begin your lead education with reliable resources, such as Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publications and tools, to deepen understanding about the potential dangers of lead; ways to reduce and monitor lead exposure; and lead remediation.
Everyone can be educated about lead. Many of these teaching tools I found are reproducible and free!
- Work with the experts! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an easy-to-read manual entitled, “Best Management Practices for Lead Outdoor Shooting Ranges“. You can print it or order as many copies as you need for free! The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a voluntary, on-site consultation program to help you understand site-specific compliance and avoid sanctions.
Also…be sure any contractors/engineers you employ have valid, appropriate certifications!
Get creative! Recycling or reusing spent lead may help the range from many of the more stringent solid waste restrictions of the EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Search for funding in creative ways. The EPA offers grants for lead cleanup that may help.
Keep track! Keep records of your progress; including the money you save by recycling or reusing lead. Awards and recognition do more than feel good; they are tangible evidence of effective management and send a clear message that you care about your employees, taxpayers, and the environment.
How to Properly Set Up an Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) For Your Firing Range
The EPA defines environmental stewardship as “the responsibility for environmental quality shared by all those whose actions affect the environment”. Because the earth is a finite resource, and many of the things we do can contaminate it, protecting both the environment and our fellow humans who live here is an important task.
Why Is an ESP Important for A Firing Range?
Firing ranges are in a unique place to be environmental stewards, largely because of huge potential for lead pollution that go hand in hand with ranges. “An environmental stewardship program is a written plan or “roadmap” for planning, implementing and monitoring the progress of environmental improvements at shooting ranges,” according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This holds true for other states as well. This plan would include proper characterization of your site, as well as implementing various management techniques.
To properly set up an ESP, several things must be taken into consideration. These include:
- physical characteristics of the shooting range;
- soil characteristics;
- both yearly rainfall and the potential for erosion;
- lay of the land, which impacts water run-off;
- both ground and surface water;
- surrounding vegetation;
- potential risks to wildlife, their habitats, and feeding;
- and proximity to neighbors.
Properly managing a firing range can make environmental stewardship easy. The following management techniques should be employed for a successful ESP:
- bullet containment;
- BMPs to prevent lead migration;
- lead removal;
- lead recycling;
- record keeping;
- wildlife management;
- human lead exposure standards;
- and remediation efforts.
MT2 is well known industry wide for being the nation’s #1 largest professional provider of the full scale of outdoor/indoor range environmental and maintenance services; proven at over 2,000 ranges in all 50 states from our nationwide office network. Including our comprehensive OSHA training program, knowledge of EPA regulations and our “Never Generate Hazardous Waste Guarantee. Specializing in: Lead: Reclamation, Screening & Treatment to MAXIMIZE Your Lead Value! Environmental: EPA & OSHA Consulting; Remediation Maintenance: Filters/Ventilation, Rubber, Traps, Decontamination Construction: Renovation, Design/Build, Improvements, Closure.
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