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J Environ Qual. 2010 Apr 13;39(3):863-70. doi: 10.2134/jeq2009.0211. Print 2010 May-Jun.

Distribution, chemical speciation, and mobility of lead and antimony originating from small arms ammunition in a coarse-grained unsaturated surface sand.

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  • 1FOI CBRN, Swedish Defence Research Agency, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden.


This study quantified the heavy metal contamination caused by firing 500 high-velocity 7.62-mm jacketed Swedish military rounds. Contamination of solid and aqueous phases was studied, with Pb and Sb being the two contaminants of primary interest. The distribution of the Pb and Sb were measured in terms of depth of penetration in sand and grain size distribution of the bullet particles. The Pb- and Sb-contaminated sand was then used as a source material in two bench-scale unsaturated lysimeters to measure the transport of Pb and Sb through two coarse-grained sands, which were taken from the berms on two Swedish military small arms ranges. The lysimeters were subjected to an infiltration cycle that reproduced spring snowmelt, which is the most significant infiltration event of the year in northern climates. The levels of mobile Pb and Sb were monitored in the effluent from the lysimeters. Extended X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy analysis was performed on the contaminated sands to determine Pb speciation before and after leaching. Ninety-three percent of the mass of bullets was found in the top 30 cm of sand. Lead oxide was the predominant species of Pb before and after leaching. Transport of Pb was small, with aqueous concentrations remaining stable at <2 microg L(-1). Antimony was far more mobile, with solute breakthrough occurring between 5 and 14 d and concentrations rising to over 125 microg L(-1) within 1 month.

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