WIT Press

Lead Emissions From Open Burning Of Artillery Propellants


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

273 - 284




564 kb


S. Thiboutot, G. Ampleman, D. Pantea, S. Whitwell & T. Sparks


Military live fire artillery training involves the accumulation and subsequent destruction of excess propellants. In the past, the charges were open burned directly on the soil surface, which led to the accumulation of 2,4-dinitrotoluene, nitroglycerine and lead in the surface soil. To prevent this, a burn table was developed for the safe and controlled disposal of excess propellants. While the use of the burn tables eliminated the impacts to the soil and groundwater, the potential emission of lead into the atmosphere was still of concern. Lead foils are used in propellant charges as a de-coppering and gun re-plating agent and are sewn directly to the propelling charge cloth bags. Prior to the burning process, the lead foils are not separated from the propellant, since their removal would involve a tedious and lengthy handling process as well as a high risk of developing static electricity and propellant ignition. Given that the lead foils are left inside the propellant bags during the burning process, questions on how much lead could potentially be released into the atmosphere were raised. In order to answer these questions, a lead mass balance trial was conducted to assess the amount of lead remaining on the burn table following the open burn process. This option was preferred to the measurements of lead in the air emissions, due to the challenges resulting from the intense combustion, high flame height and rapid dilution of the plume. The trial involved 19 burns using three types of propellants: M1 and BT19 for 105 mm guns and M6 for 155 mm guns. All burns were done in duplicates, with and without lead. Following the burns, residues


lead emissions, open burning, gun propellants, artillery live-firing