"Lead is a persistent and highly toxic substance that can cause a range
of environmental and health problems," Bush said in a statement. "It has an especially
harmful impact on the health of children and infants." —The Washington Post, April
WASHINGTON, DC—The Violence Policy Center (VPC) and the Environmental
Working Group (EWG) today released Poisonous
Pastime: The Health Risks of Shooting Ranges and Lead to Children, Families, and
the Environment. The 71-page study documents how shooting ranges are poisoning
children and polluting the environment with lead, yet remain almost entirely unregulated—exempt
from even the Bush Administration's new lead pollution reporting rules.
Pastime documents how parents often put their own children at risk because
they do not know that their visits to the local shooting range can result in lead
poisoning of their children at home. Lead poisoning is known to cause terribly
debilitating and sometimes fatal effects on children and adults.
no question that the toxic levels of lead at shooting ranges are endangering America's
children and families," VPC Senior Policy Analyst and report author Tom Diaz said
today. "No amount of lead exposure is known to be completely safe for a child.
Poisonous Pastime reveals for the
first time that the gun industry—through toxic and unregulated ranges—is sacrificing
the health of our children for profit."
Pastime details how outdoor firing ranges put more lead into the environment
than nearly any other major industrial sector in the U.S., yet they remain almost
entirely unregulated. In just two years a typical outdoor firing range can have
lead contamination equivalent to a five-acre Superfund site.
The study reveals
how school administrators throughout the country were oblivious to the dangers
of lead—from school shooting ranges—until students were found to have elevated
"Every one of the 1,800 firing ranges in the U.S. represents
a piece of land so highly contaminated with lead that it would require a massive
clean-up effort to be safe for wildlife or any industrial or residential use,"
said EWG Research Director Jane Houlihan.
Pastime finds that the shooting range industry downplays the seriousness
of its problems, hides them from the general public, and allow thousands of unregulated
shooting sites to continue to operate without strict oversight. It is based largely
on the records of internal industry meetings and gun industry publications. The
report includes recommendations at both local and federal levels.