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The hazards of leadshot in soil.

The hazards of leadshot in soil

In many industrialized countries, the major source ofenvironmental lead outdoors is the exhaust from cars fueled with leaded grades of gasoline. But in some countries, such as Denmark, spent shotgun ammunition accounts for three times more environmental lead (800 tons annually) than does automobile exhaust. A new analysis of the fate of this toxic pollutant in soil is reported in the most recent AMBIO (Vol.16, No.1). It shows that lead gunshot pellets "are rapidly tranformed' into compounds that can be taken up by plants and grazing animals or leached into streams and groundwater-- and thereby moved up the food chain.

According to Soren Storgaard Jorgensen and Marta Willems,chemists at the Veterinary and Agricultural University in Frederiksberg, Denmark, one-third of Denmark's leadshot is distributed rather uniformly over its rural areas; the remainder is concentrated on shooting ranges. The researchers picked three shooting ranges at which to study the decomposition of shot in soil. Their laboratory data show that crusty corrosion products found covering most lead-pellet surfaces should dissolve rapidly in acidic soils. Samples of the shooting-range soil showed that the average residence time for pellets in soil was 13 years in the acid loam at one site, and just six years in the neutral and acid soils at the other sites. The loamy soil accumulated two to three times more of the available lead, and most of the lead decomposition products there, unlike those at the other sites, were in an extractable (largely unbound) form. Soil cultivation was among the factors that appeared to speed leadshot decomposition.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 11, 1987
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