K.J. Bundy1, M. Bricka, and A. Morales, Environmental Laboratory, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS, 39180-6199, Phone: 601-634-3888, FAX: 601-634-3833, 1Correspondence address: Biomedical Engineering Department, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, 70118, Phone: 504-865-5897, FAX: 504-862-8779

ABSTRACT Corrosion of spent munitions in soil has never been previously investigated. Because of the possible environmental impact of lead leaching from bullets, this project was initiated to investigate the usefulness of electrochemical methods for measuring corrosion rates of bullets in soil. The electrolyte was soil taken from a Southern army training facility. A number of environmental conditions were simulated (rain water, acid rain, sea water, and a sea water/acid rain mixture) at moisture contents of 15% and saturation. The validity of using electrochemical techniques for measuring bullet corrosion has been established in this research. Corrosion current was observed to be very dependent on environmental conditions. The rate of corrosion was found to increase with decreasing pH and increasing chloride and moisture contents. High soil resistance and a relatively less negative value for corrosion potential were found to be associated with low corrosion rates. This is an important result since both soil resistivity and potential can be readily measured under field conditions. Additional laboratory and field studies are needed to obtain further insight into the bullet corrosion problem, including additional electrochemical tests, weight loss measurements, chemical analyses of soils, and other soil measurements.

KEYWORDS: bullets, corrosion, lead, soil, electrochemical techniques

This paper is from the Proceedings of the HSRC/WERC Joint Conference on the Environment, May 1996, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.

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