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Soldiers of the first and second FSU platoon. Photo: Jimmy Croona - Combat Camera / Armed Forces.

Investigation of heavy metal dispersion on military shooting fields

Published: 5 March 2015

On the traing fields at Göta Engineers in Eksjö solides has practiced sharp shooting during about 400 years. Erik Svensson, who studied The Master Programme in Natural Resources Engineering, chose to study how this traing camp has affected the surrounding soil, water and fauna in his thesis.

The work, carried out together with environmental officers in the regiment, was aimed primarily at developing a new program concept for future sampling, but also to get an in-depth analysis of the area where previously only the surface- and groundwater samples were taken.

Long military tradition. Engraving from Eksjo city from 1690 to 1710.
Long military tradition. Engraving from Eksjo city from 1690 to 1710.

–  To sample fish and mushrooms is not so common in such contexts. But it went well although fishing rod proved to be an impossible method. We used fishing net instead and it went better, we got perch and bream, says Erik Svensson.

The samples were sent to a commercial laboratory and when the answers came, it turned out that most of the values ​​were within the Environmental Protection Agency´s guidelines for what is considered acceptable, except för one of the samples. The lead content in it was 600 mg / kg instead of 50 mg / kg which is considered acceptable.

Erik Svensson, Master Programme in Natural Resources Engineering

–  It is difficult to exactly determine what this may depend on. The fields' have been used for shootings and explosions for a long time and even land masses have been moved around, for example in the construction of new roads and shooting ranges, says Erik Svensson.

Whether the proposed sample program that Erik Svensson developed in his Master’s thesis will be used in Eksjö or not decided yet. But the previously used control is not sufficiently extensive or representative.

Lead usually constitutes a key element of the ammunition used on the firing range. Lead is a heavy metal that can cause serous damage to the environment and human health. The heavy metal copper is normally an additional component of the ammunition. Copper is not as damaging as lead in the corresponding content. These heavy metals are usually present as trace elements in different minerals containing iron. Therefore, the iron also was an interesting element to include in the study. Zinc can also become a pollutant, as it can occur in high concentrations in the military firing range.

Supervisor: Jurate Kumpiene. Opponent: Karola Mäki Taavola.

Jurate Kumpiene

Kumpiene, Jurate - Professor and Head of Subject

Organisation: Waste Science and Technology, Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering
Phone: +46 (0)920 493020
Room: T2334 - Luleå»