Main content area

Soil pollution at outdoor shooting ranges: Health effects, bioavailability and best management practices

Fayiga, A.O., Saha, U.K.
Environmental pollution 2016 v.216 pp. 135-145
animals, best management practices, bioavailability, dust, lead, polluted soils, soil pollution, surface water, toxicity, vegetation
The total lead (Pb) concentrations of the surface soil, sub surface soil, vegetation and surface waters of outdoor shooting ranges are extremely high and above regulatory limits. Lead is dangerous at high concentrations and can cause a variety of serious health problems. Shooters and range workers are exposed to lead dust and can even take Pb dust home to their families while some animals around the shooting range can ingest the Pb bullets. The toxicity of Pb depends on its bioavailability which has been determined to be influenced greatly by the geochemical properties of each site. The bioavailability of Pb in shooting ranges has been found to be higher than other metal contaminated soils probably because of its very low residual Pb (<1%). Despite being an immobile element in the soil, migration of Pb within shooting ranges and offsite has been reported in literature. Best management practices to reduce mobility of Pb in shooting ranges involve an integrated Pb management program which has been described in the paper. The adoption of the non-toxic “green bullet” which has been developed to replace Pb bullets may reduce or prevent environmental pollution at shooting ranges. However, the contaminated soil resulting from decades of operation of several shooting ranges still needs to be restored to its natural state.