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Do You Recognize the Early-Warning Signs That Your Firing Range is Contaminated with Lead?

 

firing range lead-road sign block custom 19410Early warning signs that indicate the possible contamination of a firing range may not appear obvious. Yes, there is the puff of smoke after the discharge of weapon which is usually swept away down range by the employment of an effective air system. In open ranges, the winds serve the same purpose. But that lead goes somewhere, and where it lands isn't necessarily where the first signs of contamination are occurring. More obvious, bullet fragments and pellets from shotguns are much easier to spot, signaling a possible contamination problem.

Dealing with lead contamination is like fighting an octopus. There are so many arms of contamination that the problem seems almost insurmountable. Problems that plague indoor ranges don't necessarily challenge outdoor ranges and certain guns are likely to cause more contamination than others. Air systems and other technological equipment employed to deal with lead contamination are also part of the equation and the fight.

Given all these considerations and more, the place to look for the initial signs of lead contamination come from inspections and cleanup operations. It is during these procedures that lead contamination is identified and some similarities arise, indicating a commonality that provides a small but promising path to battling lead contamination and poisoning.

"While soil remediation at the park is not set to begin until next spring, tree removal is expected to begin this year at the 7.5-acre site, formerly home to a shooting range," as the EPA reportedly stated to the Dayton Daily News. What is so important in this statement is that both soil and trees, emphasis added, need removal. This outdoor range in Miami, FL tested at lead levels more than 60 times the acceptable level and impacted the area throughout the park and nearby homes.

The “string”, when pulled, that draws the various considerations of lead contamination together is the spreading of the lead. This holds true for an indoor range. Cleaning of indoor ranges requires washing surfaces - that includes not just counter tops but walls and ceilings. Any build up is a definite clue that the contamination risk is increasing. 

As with the indoor example, any build up on surfaces strongly points to the air system and fans that are deployed to remediate lead particulates from spreading. It may also present as an indicator of poor maintenance practices. "A 2011 publication by the National Shooting Sports Foundation summarizes the OSHA General Industry Lead Standard . . . explains that clothing exposed to lead should not have lead dust shaken or blown off, but instead be immediately disposed in wash water," as reported in The Altamont Enterprise. By extension, surfaces should also receive the same treatment.

Just by the outdoor range example, it is easy to conclude that the presence of any firing range is the first clue to contamination. Ranges and shooting are part of the nation's history and recreational enjoyment involving millions of Americans. Yet, the enjoyment by millions should impose a duty to prevent little or no risk to anyone. It mandates proactive precaution and implementing those measures that promise safe results for all. 

Lead, Lead, Lead! Problems with Soil Remediation at Small Arms Firing Ranges

Small Arms Firing Ranges (SAFRs) include most shooting ranges inside the United States. These ranges accept any guns that shoot equal to or below 50 caliber ammunition. There are approximately 12,000 of these ranges throughout the US, some belonging to the Department of Defense. Ammunition is composed of many parts, but lead contamination is at the forefront of environmental concerns for these businesses. While these ranges have recently become aware of and implemented methods to control lead contamination, there is much to be desired, especially with regards to soil remediation.

Lead Contamination and Soils

Lead in soil presents special environmental problems. When lead from ammunition meets soil, a chemical reaction called corrosion takes place. This creates a toxic environment. Lead contamination should worry all range goers for several reasons:

  • Uncontaminated soil soaks up lead quickly.
  • Contaminated soil cannot soak up lead, which leads to leaching into the surrounding environment.

Furthermore, lead presents many health problems for both patrons and employees of the range; health problems associated can affect every major system of the body, with particularly bad consequences for children.

Problems with Best Management Practices

The EPA released a document outlining best management practices for lead remediation at outdoor shooting ranges. Proper attention to lead management at firing ranges is critical.  

Firing Ranges, A Necessity for National Security

Most individuals who actively shoot know that bullets contain lead. Because government officials must be properly trained to use their weapons and be an accurate shot. National security depends on it. However, many ignore the very real environmental cost associated with firing ranges, regardless of whether it's on public or private land.

Lead Contamination on Firing Ranges

Bullets have been made from lead for centuries, dating back to around 1500. The design of bullets has not changed dramatically because it works quite well as is. However, the EPA and OSHA both consider lead to be a toxic substance. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease registry classifies lead as an inorganic substance that can be "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen," as well describing known health hazards from exposure to lead. Because of how we produce bullets, lead contamination is a major concern for firing ranges. It can affect the air, soil, and be absolutely devastating if it reaches the water table, as seen with the recent fiasco in Flint, Michigan.

The Cost of Cleaning Up Lead Contamination

One method of soil remediation is to remove lead contaminated soil and replace it with non-contaminated soil. Unfortunately, excavation and replacement efforts cost thousands of dollars. For example, a former range for Border Patrol officers is being cleaned up to the tune of just over $3.7 million. A member of the Sierra Club suggests this price seems exorbitant for simple excavation; however, removed soils must be taken to a hazardous waste facility. Officials declined to comment on exactly why this project cost so much, though. This seems to be a common trend seen on old Army bases. Regardless of whether the cost is justified or not, it is clear that lead contamination and the resulting remediation efforts are costly, with potentially lasting health effects.

MT2 is the Leading and Largest Nationwide Professional Lead Reclamation & Maintenance Contractor for BOTH Indoor & Outdoor Firing Ranges and has served over 1,000 public and private firing ranges nationwide since 2000. MT2’s firing range services include complete range maintenance, improvements and lead remediation services.

MT2’s extensive list of clients includes over 400 law enforcement agencies such as NYPD, State Departments of Corrections, and the US Military. Since 2006, MT2 has been implementing a BMP Program for lead management and maintenance that successfully reduces lead hazards at the NYPD training range where over 40,000 officers and recruits train annually. The NYPD BMP Program includes removal and recycling of lead bullets and bullet fragments; sampling, analysis and monitoring of soil and groundwater conditions; and chemically converting potential leachable lead fines remaining in range soils utilizing MT2’s patented ECOBOND® lead treatment technologies so that treated soils are considered non-hazardous and can be replaced back onto range berms.

Contact us today to see how we can help your range and shooters stay safe

 

Last Updated on Friday, 09 December 2016 05:00

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Do You Recognize the Early-Warning Signs That Your Firing Range is Contaminated with Lead? Protect Your Shooters and Employees

fire-ranges-lead-paintFiring Ranges and Lead Contamination

Lead bullets go with firing ranges like wooden spoons go with kitchens -- both have been around and used for a long, long time. However, firing ranges have a unique responsibility in gun range lead clean-up to prevent overexposure to lead, which both the EPA and OSHA deem a hazardous substance. Ranges get contaminated through the firing of these bullets. The lead dust from firing can be far-flung, contaminating the building, site, and even surrounding neighborhoods if the range is an open one. 

Signs of Lead Poisoning 

If your shooters or employees exhibit these signs, it's time to get some testing done. Lead exposure can affect the:

  • brain, causing memory loss, lack of concentration, headaches, irritability, and depression; 
  • cardiovascular system, causing unexplained high blood pressure;
  • digestive system, resulting in nausea, kidney malfunction, and poor appetite;
  • reproductive system, causing spontaneous miscarriages in women and decreased sex drive in men;
  • muscular system, causing fatigue, joint pain, and muscle pain; 
  • nervous system, resulting in pain and numbness in the extremities. 

 

Firing Ranges in the News

Recently, several towns have come under fire for their shooting ranges; they are costly to clean up or have to be shut down altogether. Ranges in Sacramento, California, Lawrence, Kansas and Miami Township, Ohio can all speak to the dangers and costs of lead contamination by shooting ranges. Violations of either EPA or OSHA guidelines seem exorbitant at hundreds of thousands of dollars, but cleanup with their oversight can run in excess of the range's insured liability, often exceeding 5 million dollars. Leaked lead from ranges poses a special threat to children, and once lead contaminates and area, it could leave it unsafe to access for months or even years at a time. 

Fragmentation in the Lead Remediation Industry

Fragmentation in the environmental lead remediation industry is widespread. Agencies are working at cross-purposes, regulations and laws are complex and do not always work together, and methods are not standardized across federal, state, and local governments.  

Regulations from the federal government and the states describe lead remediation as solid, water based, or air based, to meet requirements of the current Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and EPA guidelines for disposal of solid hazardous waste. But lead does not affect just one of these environments. Solid lead from bullets and bullet fragments from a firing range contaminates groundwater and watersheds after rain with storm runoff. Lead contaminated soil blows in the wind and can be breathed in or land on other, noncontaminated soil. Different agencies and organizations are responsible for their section of monitoring and remediation, but the environment doesn't have boundaries between air, water, and soil. A holistic management program needs to be developed that can address the complex environmental remediation issues of lead in the environment.

The EPA has developed a statistical model for estimating children’s blood lead levels based on lead in the air, water, and soil in a contaminated site. This model, the Integrated Exposure Uptake Biokinetic Model, is being used in neighborhoods near Superfund cleanup sites to estimate danger to children and adults in the vicinity. While the model does appear to be successful in estimating blood lead levels, with a range of acceptable exposure of less than 5% of children in the vicinity with lead blood levels at the level to cause neurological damage, the model is complicated to use and at this point has only been used by specialists during Superfund site cleanups. A model needs to be developed and tested that can be used for smaller site remediation projects, by nonspecialists.

A third problem is disparate regulations depending on ownership of the firing range. Each branch of the military has their own firing ranges, and each are responsible for site remediation. There are specific federal regulations detailing how contaminated sites on old military facilities need to be cleaned up before the land is returned to the community. Other federal law enforcement agencies have their own firing ranges, with agency specific guidelines for monitoring and remediation. State law enforcement agencies have their own sites and regulations, and privately owned firing ranges have theirs. Lands that were once federal lands and are now conservation areas, and that were used for bombing practice and other military exercises, have their own set of complex regulations. Mining companies who left slag and other solid hazardous waste, including lead, behind when their companies went out of business also present jurisdictional headaches.

MT2 is the Leading and Largest Nationwide Professional Lead Reclamation & Maintenance Contractor for BOTH Indoor & Outdoor Firing Ranges and has served over 1,000 public and private firing ranges nationwide since 2000. MT2’s firing range services include complete range maintenance, improvements and lead remediation services.

MT2’s extensive list of clients includes over 400 law enforcement agencies such as NYPD, State Departments of Corrections, and the US Military. Since 2006, MT2 has been implementing a BMP Program for lead management and maintenance that successfully reduces lead hazards at the NYPD training range where over 40,000 officers and recruits train annually. The NYPD BMP Program includes removal and recycling of lead bullets and bullet fragments; sampling, analysis and monitoring of soil and groundwater conditions; and chemically converting potential leachable lead fines remaining in range soils utilizing MT2’s patented ECOBOND® lead treatment technologies so that treated soils are considered non-hazardous and can be replaced back onto range berms.

Contact us today to see how we can help your range and shooters stay safe

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 22 November 2016 02:24

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Understanding How Lead at Shooting Ranges Harms More Than Just the Shooters at the Firing Range

 

 

Bullet-shooting range remediation-shutterstock 267020726Both the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies and the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics survey found that there are about 461,000 police officers in America today. These officers must train at shooting ranges, which place them at risk of lead poisoning.

While most people are aware that high-velocity lead is deadly, what they don't know about is the hidden dangers of the lead at the firing ranges. This is because of the dust that comes from the shooting activities, especially when it's not properly contained. Most people don't understand that proper lead cleanup and restoration of the environment is important in protecting people from lead's hazards. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand how important this is because they don't understand how damaging lead is to humans and the environment.

What Lead Does to the Environment

When it comes to the environment lead remains there indefinitely. This causes air pollution, especially in urban areas. Also, it's important to understand that this lead builds up more when located by highways, freeways, and smelting facilities. There it gets into the soil, which is why it accumulates over time.

What Lead Does to Your Health

When lead gets into the soil it also causes long-term health hazards for the humans who come into contact with it. This includes high blood pressure, kidney damage, and cancer. If a pregnant woman comes into contact with high levels of lead they risk miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, low birth weight, and other malfunctions to their baby.

Clearly this isn't a risk any police officer deserves simply because they've gone to practice at a firing range after a hard day out on the streets protecting us nor is it something they can avoid since they're required to practice. As such, gun ranges must take steps to clean up their ranges, making them safer for our police officers today.

MT2 is the Leading and Largest Nationwide Professional Lead Reclamation & Maintenance Contractor for BOTH Indoor & Outdoor Firing Ranges and has served over 1,000 public and private firing ranges nationwide since 2000. MT2’s firing range services include complete range maintenance, improvements and lead remediation services.

MT2’s extensive list of clients includes over 400 law enforcement agencies such as NYPD, State Departments of Corrections, and the US Military. Since 2006, MT2 has been implementing a BMP Program for lead management and maintenance that successfully reduces lead hazards at the NYPD training range where over 40,000 officers and recruits train annually. The NYPD BMP Program includes removal and recycling of lead bullets and bullet fragments; sampling, analysis and monitoring of soil and groundwater conditions; and chemically converting potential leachable lead fines remaining in range soils utilizing MT2’s patented ECOBOND® lead treatment technologies so that treated soils are considered non-hazardous and can be replaced back onto range berms.

Contact us today to see how we can help your range and shooters stay safe

 

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 November 2016 21:32

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Protecting Wet Lands and Water Bodies from Shooting Range Activities: Silent Hazards

 

gun range lead cleaning-MT2 iStock 93950291 SMALLOpen firing ranges pose greater risks to health than expected. Many assume that the winds blow the lead laden smoke away -- and they are right -- keeping the immediate area around the firing range clear of lead-laden dust, smoke and particulates. Their mistake is believing that the problem is “gone with the wind”. Their misguided belief blinds them to wind's role as a harbinger, carrying the poisonous particulates and dust over wet lands, ponds, and lakes where they drop from the sky to spread the health hazard of lead poisoning to the wildlife below.

Experts estimate, as the Violence Policy Center (VPC)  reports, that lead finds its way into the ecosystems from open firing ranges. All that smoke must go somewhere. The wind acts like a fan spreading the lead that inevitably, and predictably, falls. The firing range acts as a generator of lead. When coupled with the winds, instead of providing a safer place for shooters and the environment, the outdoor firing ranges possess as many dangers, if not more, than an indoor range.

When the lead finally drops from the sky, it lands on whatever lies beneath. In many instances, firing ranges are located near woods, wildlife regions, or remote areas because of the noise level and the smell emitted on days when the range is in heavy use. 

Sadly, fish, birds, and other wildlife live on, in, and around lakes, wet lands and other water bodies. They depend on these topographical features for sustenance and life. As with humans, when lead begins to accumulate in their system, the predictable damage to the nervous system, organs, and more occurs. Like DDT's terrible effect on wildlife, so eloquently describe in the Pulitzer prize-winning book by Rachel Carson "Silent Spring", the impact also disrupts the breeding cycle, potentially reducing the numbers of future generations.

The biggest impact is to waterfowl. Despite regulation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop the use of lead shot, according to the Violence Policy Center, it is estimated that 300,000 waterfowl die annually from lead poisoning. Other animals, as the life cycle plays out, then consume these dead birds, possibly increasing the lead amounts in their brains and organs.

The biggest problem is cleaning up and no one so far has an answer. Lead has a very long half-life. Scientists estimate that a lead molecule will last 1.9 x 10^19 years. Just add 19 zeros to the 1.9 years and a picture of the hazard and its potential for long-term harm becomes shockingly clear.

Surprising, but in many states there are no regulations covering outdoor ranges. Looking to the EPA for answers is futile. There are alternatives and those concerned with protecting the environment have instituted injunctive suits successfully under CERCLA, the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and more.

MT2 is the Nation’s leading provider of environmental firing range services having provided professional, high-integrity solutions to over 1,000 public and private indoor and outdoor firing ranges for military, law enforcement and municipalities nationwide in all 50 States since 2000. MT2 is committed to protecting law enforcement officers who protect and serve our communities.

MT2 has recycled over 12 MILLION tons of lead, returning over $4,000,000 dollars to ranges owners, while working closely with range owners to implement firing range Best Management Practices (BMPs). MT2’s zero-tolerance for regulatory violations gives range owners the peace of mind that their project will be successfully completed on a guaranteed schedule.

No one can complete a firing range lead reclamation project quicker and safer than MT2.

Contact us today to discuss your range maintenance and lead reclamation needs.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2016 21:59

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Indoor Firing Ranges (as well as Outdoor Ranges) Can be a Danger to Shooters

 

 

Most gun ranges do their part to try keeping the firing range lead cleaned, and there are some things each shooter should do during and after they're done at the range. 

 

These include: 

  • Keep an eye on the range's ventilation yourself. If your gun is smoking or the air doesn't smell clean after a few seconds after firing it, immediately inform management. You can always return on another day if you must.
  • Wear plastic gloves when picking up your spent casings. Once finished, wash your hands with cold water and soap. This way you're removing any lead particles while keeping your skin's pores closed (with cold water) so your body doesn't absorb them.
  • Don't drink or eat inside the range. Remember, lead particles are airborne and they'll land on your food.
  • Never smoke inside a shooting range because this is similar to what happens when you eat. However, with cigarettes you're actually inhaling the lead into your lungs.
  • Change your clothes and shoes as soon as possible so you don't pass the lead particles on to other people or your pets.

 

MT2 has a passion to protect police officers while shooting at firing ranges, we are the Leading Nationwide Professional Lead Reclamation & Maintenance Contractor for BOTH Indoor & Outdoor Firing Ranges and have served over 1,000 public and private firing ranges nationwide since 2000. MT2’s firing range services include complete range maintenance, improvements and lead remediation services.

MT2’s extensive list of clients includes over 400 law enforcement agencies such as NYPD, State Departments of Corrections, and the US Military. Since 2006, MT2 has been implementing a BMP Program for lead management and maintenance that successfully reduces lead hazards at the NYPD training range where over 40,000 officers and recruits train annually. The NYPD BMP Program includes removal and recycling of lead bullets and bullet fragments; sampling, analysis and monitoring of soil and groundwater conditions; and chemically converting potential leachable lead fines remaining in range soils utilizing MT2’s patented ECOBOND® lead treatment technologies so that treated soils are considered non-hazardous and can be replaced back onto range berms.

Contact us today to discuss your firing range lead reclamation

 

Last Updated on Friday, 11 November 2016 04:28

Hits: 833

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