A new study by the National Academy of Science, commissioned by the Defense Department, this week revealed that toxic lead ammunition used on Army, Navy and Air Force firing ranges jeopardizes the health of military workers, potentially causing neurologic, cardiovascular, reproductive and other problems. As Matthew Hay Brown reported in the Baltimore Sun, Senators Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., have expressed concern about the report’s implications for workers at military installations with firing ranges, particularly women who may be pregnant or breastfeeding, and the potential impacts on children.
“They’re at risk,” Senator Cardin said. “This report shows that exposure to lead from firing ranges is a health hazard, and we can do a better job of protecting the public health.”
“Everyone makes everything complicated,” added Senator Boxer. “It’s not complicated. We want to protect our people from exposure to these dangerous toxins. And we will do everything in our power to ensure that our families are protected from toxins that harm the human body.”
This new evidence about the danger of lead ammunition comes at a time when Senate Democrats continue to push for final passage of S. 3525, the so-called “Sportsmen’s Act,” which would, among other things, tie the hands of the Environmental Protection Agency from considering future restrictions on lead ammunition or fishing tackle. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the use of lead shot for waterfowl hunting in 1991, after biologists and conservationists estimated roughly two million ducks died each year from ingesting spent lead pellets. Duck hunters and goose hunters easily adapted by using non-toxic shot, which is readily available and about the same cost. More than 20 years later, with mounting evidence on the dangers of lead to the environment, endangered species, and human health, some lawmakers and hunting groups want to put their heads in the sand and block any scientific examination of the issue.
According to CQ Roll Call, Senators Boxer and Cardin are blocking a unanimous consent agreement to fast-track the bill, objecting to the lead shot provision. And Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., Scott Brown, R-Mass., and a dozen co-sponsors have filed an amendment to strip the provision in the bill to allow the import of sport-hunted polar bear trophies. It’s a controversial bill with so many terrible provisions, and the Senate shouldn’t ram through this package behind closed doors during the lame-duck session.
As Senator Cardin said, “We want to make sure that we have the appropriate regulatory environment to protect the public health. Let the agencies have the authority that they need, and let’s be judged by best science, and let’s keep politics out of it.”
Exactly. Call your two Senators at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to block the Sportsmen’s Act, and share this Facebook graphic to help spread the word.