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Lead Pollution at Outdoor Firing Ranges

Lead Pollution at Outdoor Firing Ranges

Monday, April 30, 2001

View and Download the report here: Lead Pollution At Outdoor Firing Ranges

Lead is the most prevalent contaminant at Superfund sites across the country (EPA 2001a). The highly toxic metal triggers more Superfund cleanups than any other industrial chemical or waste product in the environment. Lead is considered the number one environmental threat to children’s health by the federal government, and at very low levels is linked to subtle developmental delays and reduced I.Q. in children (EPA 2001b, 2001c).

Recognition of the toxicity of lead is broad and nonpartisan. On April 17, 2001, the Bush Administration took its first action against lead polluters, in an announcement that the Bush Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would uphold a Clinton Administration rule requiring all businesses releasing 100 pounds of lead a year (or greater) to report this pollution to the government. The announcement came despite objections raised by affected industries.

Lead contamination has now emerged in another context: firing ranges. The military has been involved in massive lead cleanup efforts for years, at an estimated 700 military firing ranges across the country. In this report, we present the first estimates of lead pollution at commercial and private firing ranges. Our analysis shows that shooting ranges are likely to be one the biggest sources of lead pollution in the country (Figure 1). Assuming a very modest level of activity at the nation's 1,813 firing ranges - just 15 customers shooting 50 rounds a day - firing ranges would put nearly nine million pounds of lead into the environment per year. This is more lead pollution than is produced by any other industry except metals mining and manufacturing, and waste recovery operations. While most of this lead will likely remain on the site, the nation’s firing ranges represent a major potential source of lead in water and wildlife, and a potential liability to nearby property owners who may find themselves living next to a hazardous waste site or who might be victims of lead drifting onto their property.

View and Download the report here: Lead Pollution At Outdoor Firing Ranges

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