Advances and limitations in the determination and assessment of gunshot residue in the environment

2021-01-15

Gunshot residue (GSR) stemming from the discharge of firearms has been essential to advancements in the field of forensic science however the human and environmental health impacts from GSR are far less researched. GSR represents a multifaceted concern: it contains a complex mixture of inorganic and organic components and produces airborne particles with variable sizes, depositions, and fates. Herein we evaluate studies in the literature examining GSR collection, deposition, composition, environmental contamination, and potential remediation techniques within the last two decades (2000 – 2020). Throughout we reflect upon key findings and weaknesses in relation to environmental characterization of GSR and associated firearm contaminants. Research focused on techniques to analyze both inorganic and organic GSR simultaneously has begun, but requires additional effort. A vast majority of the available environmental characterization literature focuses on soil contamination at outdoor firing ranges for a select number of elements (Cu, Pb, Sb) with comparisons between ranges or at different collection distances and depths. There is limited ability for between study comparisons due to collection and analysis differences as well as a lack of background soil sampling. Notably, these studies lack direct quantification of the contribution of contaminants from GSR as well as analysis of organic compounds. Currently, there is a need for air monitoring to determine the composition, deposition, and fate of GSR, particularly in outdoor settings. This review summarizes the collection, characterization, and environmental studies related to GSR and highlights areas of research needed to establish the environmental health impacts.

Authors: Oscar Black, Samuel Cole Smith, Courtney Roper
; Full Source: Ecotoxicology and environmental safety 2021 Jan 15;208:111689. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2020.111689.