High school firing range spreads dangerous lead particulates in Flint, MI EPA Complaint filed
Students at Flint's Northwestern High school check their targets. Photo by Sam Wilson MLive.com
On January 25, 2016, Pat Elder with the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy filed the following complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency:
Suspected Violator Name: Northwestern HS, Flint, MI, Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program, Civilian Marksmanship Program
Suspected Violator Address: G-2138 West Carpenter Road Flint, MI 48505
Description of Incident or hazard: Lisa Stickler, Coordinator, Genesee County, MI Health Department has informed me that their Health Dept. does not monitor lead contamination associated with high school firing ranges. She has asked that I contact you. Northwestern High School in Flint, MI has an indoor firing range that is run by the Navy's JROTC program and is affiliated with the Civilian Marksmanship Program. The Civilian Marksmanship Program’s Guide to Lead Management cautions that if shooters or coaches move forward of the firing line “they can potentially pick up lead fragments on their shoes and track them back to the firing points or areas behind the firing line. For this reason, personnel movements forward of the firing line should be reduced and restricted to marked lanes on either side of the firing points.” Published photos clearly show children accessing targets without taking precautions.
Furthermore, the CMP says kids just need to wash their hands but NIOSH says that's not enough. Also, the CMP says high schools should use trisodium phosphate to clean firing ranges but HUD says they shouldn't. The CMP’s 2013 Guide to Lead Management relies on the findings of Health & Environmental Technology LLC (HET), an environmental testing firm in Colorado Springs, Colorado to dispel the notion that air guns shooting lead pellets create airborne particles. The sole employee of HET is Mr. Robert Rodosevich. Rodosevich came under scrutiny in Colorado in 2012 for "gross technical incompetence in technical compliance." Meanwhile, HET’s work performed for the CMP is cited by high school officials who are forced to defend the presence of indoor firing ranges in their schools by parents concerned about the potentially harmful effects of lead contamination.
The Air Force has heard the complaints and has switched to non-lead pellets as have schools across the country. Please ask for my 60-page report. Several published photos suggest officials in Flint are failing to minimize these risks. Apparently, the city’s drinking water is not the only source of potential lead contamination. Other photos of the shooting range at Northwestern suggest there are no marked lanes. The CMP calls for the use of disposable plastic shoe covers when going downrange which also does not appear to be happening in Flint. Kids at Northwestern are likely to be tracking lead throughout the school.