Weapons: Make Magic Bullets Or Else



August 25, 2008: The British military has backed away from using lead-free bullets. Two years ago, the British decided that, for the good of the environment, they would make bullets of tungsten, and other metals, rather than lead. But further research revealed that tungsten was also poisonous, and much more expensive as well.

Several hundred thousand tons of lead a year go into the manufacture of bullets. Firing ranges have been found to be literally contaminated with lead, and sometimes that lead gets into the local water supply. Lead is so commonly used for bullets mainly because it is heavy, and cheap. But it turns out that all other heavy metals are poisonous as well, in addition to being more expensive. Bullets made of lighter, and safer, materials are not as effective (at hitting and injuring live targets).

Research continues on finding ways to make bullets less harmful to the environment, without losing the ability to be accurate, and fatal to targets. There is some urgency in this, as environmental officials have been shutting down military firing ranges that continue to use the ecologically offensive munitions.