New York Environmental Officers' Firearms Training Now Lead-Free
ALBANY, New York, January 4, 2008 (ENS) – From now on, firearms training for personnel with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, DEC, will be conducted with “green ammo” Commissioner Pete Grannis said Monday.
The ammunition DEC will be using is considered green in comparison to standard lead-based ammunition because it is lead-free and includes non-toxic primers. This combination reduces the impact of firearms training on the environment.
Grannis said, “DEC is committed to leading the way in finding new ways – large and small – to reduce the amount of contamination that is released into our environment.”
“DEC’s 464 environmental conservation officers and forest rangers are leading the state by implementing a common-sense change to use non-toxic ammunition in order to protect public health and the environment from the effects of lead,” the commissioner said.
The agency is currently phasing in the new ammunition with the its 330 environmental conservation officers and 134 forest rangers, all of whom are highly trained police officers.
The DEC expends over 150,000 rounds of ammunition annually, including during regional in-service training exercises, as well as at the Department’s 26-week residential basic training academy.
While it will cost slightly more to purchase the green ammunition, the state will realize long-term benefits including the elimination of hazardous material exposure to humans and the environment, as well as eliminating the possibility of costly lead removal at DEC police training ranges.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says lead from ammunition can oxidize when exposed to air and dissolve when exposed to acidic water or soil, entering the environment that way. Also, lead bullets, bullet particles, and dissolved lead can be moved from firing ranges by stormwater runoff and dissolved lead can migrate through soils to groundwater.
Lead poisoning is a human health risk and inhalation or ingestion of lead dust while firing or handling lead-based ammunition is a potential pathway for exposure, the EPA says.
Because of the adverse effects lead in the environment can have on animals, the state of New York requires that only non-toxic shot be used in waterfowl hunting and has imposed a ban on the sale of lead sinkers for fishing line weighing less than half of an ounce.
For more information about lead in bullets and specifically, details on protecting public health and the environment by implementing best management practices at firing ranges, visit the EPA’s website at: www.epa.gov.