May 02, 2001

A study published by the Violence Policy Center (VPC) and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) claims that 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.

Poisonous 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.

The report 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 rangesùuntil students were found to have elevated blood levels.

"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.

Poisonous Pastime finds that thousands of unregulated shooting sites 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.