Antimony environmental interactions and sequestration associated with amendments at small arms firing ranges

William Andrew Martin, Purdue University


There are over 12,000 private and military operated small arms firing ranges (SAFRs) located in the United States alone, and in 1990 over 600 tons of antimony (Sb) was used to manufacture bullets and shot that was fired at these SAFRs. The metalloid Sb is used at 1 to 8 wt% as a hardening agent in lead (Pb)-Sb alloyed bullets. As bullets corrode at SAFRs they release Pb and Sb as leachate and runoff into the environment as corrosion products often reacting differently in the environment where Sb is potentially more mobile than Pb. The purpose of this study was to examine the mobility of Sb from SAFRs and evaluate Sb interactions with amendments commonly used to stabilize Pb. Antimony mobility was assessed through changes in redox chemistry, batch adsorption tests, SAFR soil leaching tests, dynamic pilot scale SAFR leaching studies, culminating with dynamic full scale SAFR leaching studies. The migration of Sb from SAFRs was examined and the best management practice (BMP) introducing amendments to reduce Sb migration were evaluated at the pilot and full scale levels. Sb mobility was compared to other metals commonly found on SAFRs, such as Pb, copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn). Concentrations of Sb over 1 mg L-1 leached from the full scale control SAFR with leaching up to 0.7% of the Sb present in 2.5 pore volumes after 12 months of rain events. Sb leachate concentrations were reduced by a factor of six with the addition of an amendment. The broader impacts of this study include an understanding of the rate of Sb migration under SAFR dynamic loading conditions, the potential for improving Sb sample preservation techniques for better Sb quantification, and a better testing strategy for amendments that influence the sequestration of Sb and other metals (i.e. Pb, Cu, and Zn) at SAFRs. More research is needed to improve sample preservation techniques and additional data are needed on the long term stability of amended soils, and the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of Sb especially related to high percent levels similar to SAFR concentrations.




Schwab, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Environmental science|Geochemistry

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