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Lead Exposure Risks & Shooting Ranges

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Published on Jan 21, 2015

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), there are an estimated 9,000 non-military outdoor firing ranges and approximately 16,000 to 18,000 indoor ranges operating in the United States. The U.S. military alone operates more than 3,000 indoor firing ranges. Millions of law enforcement officers, soldiers and gun enthusiasts regularly visit these shooting ranges and the facilities employee tens of thousands of workers.

Each year, millions of pounds of lead from bullets are shot at these ranges and both outdoor and indoor firing ranges can be contaminated with high levels of lead and lead dusts.

Outdoor ranges are typically built in an open area so lead is often more widely dispersed. These ranges may need less frequent cleaning and maintenance than indoor ranges. However, despite the natural ventilation of outdoor firing ranges, personal breathing zone lead levels can exceed the NIOSH recommended exposure limit (REL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL).

Indoor ranges have additional challenges as they are located in an enclosed space. NIOSH states that, “Ventilation is the most important engineering control for protection against primary lead exposure in indoor firing ranges.” Also, carpeting should not be used anywhere inside a firing range or in adjacent rooms as the accumulation of lead dust in carpets is a health hazard.

At either type of range, cleaning and maintenance work should be performed by employees who are trained in the proper techniques of exposure control and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Even the process of loading guns and magazines and discarding spent casings can cause contact with lead and the shooter’s hands which can make them susceptible to exposure through hand to mouth activities. Due to this fact, shooters should wash their hands whenever possible and certainly before leaving the range.

Pregnant woman should be especially vigilant at shooting ranges due to lead poisoning concerns. Many health experts also recommend that people wear separate clothes and shoes while at a firing range and change before leaving. These clothes should be kept and washed separately from other clothes.

These are just a few things to know about lead exposure risks and shooting ranges. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown on the screen and below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council http://www.maineindoorair.org
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net

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