The NPS has issued an advisory alerting parks to complications that may arise from the use of green ammunition containing tungsten at park-owned firing ranges. Tungsten is a hard metallic element that is being used by some green ammunition manufacturers in their bullet projectiles. Recent evidence has shown that the presence of tungsten fragments in lead waste (from lead contaminated soils or bullet traps) makes the recovery of lead more complicated. In fact, some lead recovery operations will not accept lead waste that has been contaminated with tungsten. Since such material cannot be recycled, it must be disposed of as a hazardous waste and this could lead to significant firing range cleanup costs. In addition, tungsten reduces soil pH and this can lead to corrosion of lead fragments and increase the mobility of lead in soils. This may cause migration of lead to areas outside of firing range boundaries.
Further guidance will be issued on this subject as more information becomes available. Until then, we are providing a list of green ammunition that contains tungsten as well as a list of green ammunition that can be purchased in lieu of ammunition containing tungsten. Click on More Information below for a link to the advisory and the lists.
We recommend that parks utilizing green ammunition for practice purposes check their stock to determine whether tungsten is included in the manufacturing process. We also recommend that parks begin purchasing green ammunition without tungsten.
If you have any questions regarding this issue, please contact Tom Smith, EMP contractor, at 202-513-7077, or Fred Sturniolo, EMP environmental protection specialist, at 202-513-7078.