Lead is a widespread metal that is utilized in a wide array of applications and industries. It is used in toys, as well as in bullets. It is readily available with an abundant supply and it is cheap, so it makes for an excellent material in many ways. Having said that, despite its low cost and versatility, lead is also known to be a toxic material that can lead to serious health consequences upon human exposure.
Given the growing awareness of the negative health implications of lead, regulation has increased making it more difficult and more expensive to process or sell parts containing lead. As such, lead is no longer so common in plumbing, radiation shielding equipment or bullets. Compounders and product developers have thus begun to seek alternative materials that can deliver the same physical properties as lead but without any toxic constituents. Nevertheless, it pays to learn more about the available options regarding lead replacement materials before making a final decision on the material that best fits your program or product needs.
Who leads the fight against lead?
The harmful effects of lead are not just assumptions or untested theories. Based upon countless medical studies and the increased regulatory pressures reflecting the studies’ findings, we know all too clearly the negative health impact lead poses. The military is probably the industry that uses the highest amounts of lead, whether it comes to training or actual deployment. Nevertheless, not unaware of the health issues associated with lead, the U.S. military has started to phase out classic ammunition in favor of green ammunition. This change began as early as 2010. To date, estimates suggest that this gradual shift has already successfully prevented thousands of tons of lead from entering into and negatively impacting the environment.
Ammunition is perhaps the application that accounts for the highest and most widespread use of lead, and as such lead obviously makes its way to the hunting field as well. Various hunting associations have reacted differently to the growing regulatory pressures regarding the use of lead and the lead alternative ammunitions that have begun to make their way onto store shelves. Some question the performance of such alternatives. Nevertheless, if a particular lead substitute is good and professional enough to meet the army’s stringent requirements, then it would probably stand to meet a hunter’s needs and expectations as well. Poisoning the wildlife is not anyone’s intention, yet it can be an unfortunate byproduct of hunting with standard lead rounds. Once the hunting season is over, plenty of animals and birds feed on the remains, which are rich in lead. They inevitably get poisoned and suffer. From this point on, the entire environment is changed. With these thoughts in mind, a lot of hunting enthusiasts are actively supporting various lead replacement solutions and encourage their fellows to take advantage of these new lead-free ammunition alternatives as well.
Exploring a few viable substitutes of lead
While lead might be extremely popular in a variety of applications given its ample supply and low-cost, it is obvious that such advantages come with a health and safety trade-off.
In almost every industry and application, thanks to advances in technology, there are now viable alternatives that offer the same performance as lead. In the ammunition industry, there are a variety of ‘green ammo’ alternatives, such as copper filled polymer rounds or metal composites, usually of a tin and copper blend. Such alternatives match the ballistic performance of lead rounds with little to no environmental impact.
Depending on the industry and application, there are likely a series of lead substitutes available to manufacturers and customers. Of course, some of them are more expensive than others, but in the end, the general idea is to phase out the use of lead and thus eradicate any of the health concerns it poses.
As a short final conclusion, the move toward a safer environment begins with you, so live responsibly.