Guns can cause harm to anyone, whether intentionally or accidentally. Shooting ranges are considered one of the safest spaces to fire a gun because of safety precautions. Anything can still go wrong. That is why every shooting range owner knows that equipping their customers and employees with the right safety gear is a priority.
Many gun range owners fail to adequately address one of the most dangerous hazards in a shooting range: lead exposure. Worse, they may not even be aware that anyone who shoots a gun and those in the vicinity is at risk for such exposure.
You make sure that you and your employees clean the shooting range every business hour. You might not be practicing proper lead removal practices. It is why it might not be the place for someone pregnant.
Why You Should Remove Lead in Your Shooting Range
Removing lead in your shooting range is not just about cleanliness but mostly for health reasons. It is released into the air whenever someone fires a gun. The more people fire their guns, the quicker it accumulates in a shooting range.
When it gets airborne, anyone is at risk of inhaling or ingesting it. Once airborne, they will not disappear by themselves.
Instead, they will remain airborne for some time before eventually settling down on any surface. Once they are disturbed, they will easily go back to being airborne once again.
These lead particles are invisible to the naked eye, even when airborne. It is impossible to avoid them if you are not wearing the right protective gear, especially respirators or masks. There is no safe level of exposure, and too much of it can soon become a matter of life and death for anyone. Yes, exposure can have fatal consequences.
If lead is not removed in a shooting range, it will simply keep accumulating. It’s potentially dangerous when lead-based bullets and primers are used in shooting guns. Left unchecked, anyone who enters your shooting range can quickly get exposed when they enter the area.
There is no definite timeline when exposed people will start experiencing various health issues. Lead poisoning occurs if you are exposed to it in large amounts in a short period. Not properly removing it in a shooting range allows particles to settle and accumulate, greatly increasing the risk of poisoning.
Indoor Range Lead Removal
Lead tends to accumulate more in an indoor range. That is why its removal should be more meticulous. The enclosed space traps particles inside, especially if there is little to no ventilation. That is why you must not only ensure proper removal, but you must also prevent them from accumulating.
There are several ways to minimize exposure in an indoor shooting range, and the following are the most important:
- Go lead-free. While many bullets and primers still contain lead, there are also lead-free options available nowadays.
- Ensure proper ventilation in the space, ideally with a separate ventilation system for the range. Proper air circulation allows particles to immediately move away from the shooter’s face after firing. They’ll go towards the vents intended for the range itself, which should have a HEPA filter to screen.
- Use HEPA filters and regularly replace them. This not only applies to those installed in your ventilation system but also your vacuum cleaners. When replacing, make sure that the old filters are disposed of properly by putting them inside a sealed container before disposal.
- Promote proper hygiene for both customers and employees. This includes washing their hands with soap and cold showering and changing their clothes after shooting or finishing their shifts. Properly pack their shooting or work clothes to prevent cross-contamination
Even if you follow all these, it will still settle anywhere in any indoor space. That is why proper and periodic lead removal is a must. Proper removal involves using water or a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters.
You may think that you are cleaning your range via dry sweeping, but you disturb any lead present and make them rise back up in the air.
Wet mopping is crucial because water will prevent dangerous particles from becoming airborne. Make sure to use fresh, clean water with every pass, as reusing it will only contaminate the water.
Using a vacuum cleaner is also possible, and it can remove lead easier and with minimal effort on your part. You must use one equipped with a HEPA filter capable of trapping particles.
Without it, these particles will easily escape your vacuum cleaner and go back to being airborne. Also, make sure to get an explosion-proof unit to prevent igniting any gunpowder present.
You may even consider using an XRF gun to check the levels at the range when you have cleaned.
Outdoor Range Lead Removal
Air circulates better in an outdoor range. There is less chance for lead to settle and accumulate in the range, which minimizes the risk of poisoning. However, the risk is still present, albeit low. That is why you must still practice lead removal in an outdoor range.
Unfortunately, the dust tends to settle in the soil outdoors, making its removal much more complicated. You can remove lead present in the soil through the following methods:
- Sifting and hand raking – It is similar to sifting and raking leaves in your yard, but you use the rake to sift through the topsoil or surface layer. Collect it and screen the soil. Particles will easily pass through the screener, making it easy for you to dispose of the contaminated soil.
- Soil washing – The soil’s particles are separated into clay, sand, silt, and gravel. Lead adheres to clay, making its removal possible by splitting them physically or using gravity when washing the soil.
- Installing a vacuuming system – These systems can immediately collect any lead that is released after shooting a gun.
- Vacuuming – You can also use certain outdoor vacuums to remove lead. They must also be equipped with a HEPA filter. Another method is by spreading the dry topsoil over an impermeable surface and running the vacuum over it. Those that are not collected by the vacuum are likely to contain lead.
- Professional removal – These professional reclaimers can remove as much as 75 to 95 percent of the particles present in the soil.
Even if there is better air circulation outdoors, you still must not use the dry sweeping or wiping method to remove dust in an outdoor range. This will disturb them, causing them to become airborne.
But more importantly, anyone involved in the removal process must always wear personal protective equipment. A respirator or mask is the most important. Ensure that it has a P100 or N100 rating because these are the only ones that can effectively filter lead.
Are you a parent who regularly takes your children to shooting ranges and teach them the craft?
Suppose you are a parent who regularly takes your kids to shoot ranges rather than necessarily being the owner of a firing range. In that case, this section may be the one that you have been looking for.
If you take your kids there, it is obvious because you have a couple of objectives in mind. One of them is having a good time. How would you feel about knowing that you didn’t take the necessary precautions to ensure your child’s safety in doing so?
If you want to have a good time with your child, make sure to take proper safety measures. We would be surprised if you would deliberately do something that could significantly impact their health.
Additionally, we are not talking about the negative consequences that it could have in the short term. This could also cause significant long-term damage to their health. The exposure may also be damaging to adults. The devastating effects that it brings are so much more significant among children exposed to the material. They end up with elevated blood lead levels due to inadequate protective measures being taken.
In a still-developing person, exposure is a serious concern that should not be taken lightly. Incorporate safety measures to limit the amount of exposure and actively be sure that you don’t see signs that exposure is happening.
We recommend getting a blood test done every 6 months if you frequently go to a shooting range. It’s especially the ones inside. We recommend that kids get blood work done more often than if they are members of a rifle club or something similar. They will get significant exposure to ranges, guns, and ammunition. That could be a typical example of an activity that would mean frequent exposure is likely to happen. There are also other instances where the exposure could be significant, like practicing competitive shooting. Being the person who knows what your children spend their time doing, we’re sure you’ll know whether or not that is the case.
Besides getting regular blood work done for both you and your children, you should be aware of any symptoms that may indicate poisoning. Acute exposure may reveal itself in the way of these symptoms. Prolonged exposure is also an issue, even if the level of exposure is lower. It does accumulate in the body, and there is currently no way to treat it.
Exposure to lead can result in many side effects that you can find many articles on. However, kidney and liver damage, developmental delay, and cognitive decline are the most dangerous.
There may or may not be a list of symptoms you can spot and encourage you to look out for. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek immediate help from a doctor. They can determine whether or not the symptoms are related to exposure.
The symptoms to look out for include irritability, anemia, difficulty thinking, headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite, and sleep problems. Blood pressure is additionally something to be aware of. Still, we encourage you to be aware of anything that seems out of the ordinary.
Maybe you are a parent looking to find a place where your child can practice. Our recommendation is definitely that they choose an outdoor one for many reasons. It includes the lower exposure to lead particles. However, these outdoor options also offer a range of other benefits. It includes the lower strain on the ears from the noise.
When looking for an indoor place, you may want to go through the various steps outlined in the sections above. Ensure that the shooting range you are considering incorporates the various safety procedures. As we previously mentioned, wet cleaning plays a major role. It is significantly more effective than the simple use of dry cleaning. It is also important that it isn’t just any vacuum.
The actual vacuum is intended for the purpose used to clean the various surfaces, meaning it should be HEPA certified.
You should be encouraging safe shooting practices. It includes the important aspects of ensuring your teen stays protected from the dangerous particles released when a gun is used.
You may not necessarily end up extremely popular due to enforcing these initiatives. They’re important for the sake of teaching your kids about the damaging side effects of exposure. Some will inherently happen through the practice of shooting unless significant measures are taken.
In the same way, the people cleaning the firing ranges are wearing protective equipment. We encourage you to talk with them to incorporate these measures into their training. First of all, the ideal situation would include wearing a respirator through their practice to avoid inhaling any of the particles.
Getting a rebellious teen to do so continuously may not seem feasible. It’s why disposable masks that have been rated for the purpose may be a more realistic option.
It’s also important that you teach them that food and drinks are not consumed at the range. It should be stored safely where contamination isn’t possible. If food is brought to the range, it must remain stored safely like the car.
Teach your kids the importance of washing their hands with cold water following a practice session at the range. It shouldn’t just be cold water.
It has to be cold soapy water, preferably the type of soap made specifically to remove lead particles. Additionally, cold water over hot water is important. It prevents the particles from going in the pores, as the cold water makes the pores close. In contrast, warm water encourages the opening of the pores.
Other sources of exposure
It may seem ironic that one of the bigger threats to gun ranges is the ammunition used and the lead that it may contain. People should be using adequate safety measures at the gun range. It includes properly handling the gun and avoiding playing around with it. Lead is often a source of danger that isn’t obvious. It’s perhaps because it doesn’t seem imminent at the time.
It is no surprise that people are more worried about guns being handled properly, and they definitely should be.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be paying attention to some of the other potential dangers, too. One of them happens to be lead.
So, why are we so focused on increasing awareness of this type of heavy metal? Over time, it can have devastating effects on the human body. It builds up in there.
This isn’t like many other things because it enters the body and leaves. No, once it’s there, it’s there, and the health consequences that it brings along with it are permanent. In addition, certain family members are much more at risk than others – the kids. Kids are still developing, and the ingestion of this material can lead to many things. It includes developmental delay and effects on the cognitive part. It is so significant that inner-city public schools have a range of problems considered environmental racism.
Yes, these schools are very likely to contain deteriorating lead paint. As the paint’s condition gets worse over time, it can chip. These pain chips may either land in someone’s food, on the ground or somewhere else where kids can end up exposed from it.
Think about it. When was the last time you saw a kid put a piece of the toy in their mouth? If that toy hasn’t been cleaned and dust has been sprinkling over it, a soft layer of lead may be covering it.
This would be an issue if the schools and homes could use adequate EPA-approved lead test kits or XRF testers. It should ensure that the deteriorating paint in those builds doesn’t contain lead, whether it’s in old plaster or a hairline crack.
However, it’s very important not just to sit there and do nothing about it if it does.
Did you know that the landlord has to report if a building you’re living in contains lead paint? As you can see from that article, it is one of the more popular articles on this site, and for a good reason.
People take it seriously what the landlord has to do. While lead in paint isn’t an inherent issue, it becomes when the paint is no longer in good condition.
After reading this article, it’s not just that you might think there is an exposure issue at the gun range. Still, it can also be in the housing you live in. Maybe the house you’re living in is old and you start seeing that the paint is giving up in various places. We urge you to see whether or not it contains dangerous heavymetalsl. Maybe it is not a place you own but rather a rental where you live.
Reach out to your landlord and see if they have taken any steps to ensure that your living conditions can be considered safe. Are there additional steps that are needed?
We recommend that you do these things in writing because you will want to document this if there are disputes afterward. Different states may have different regulations on the topic.
Some are more strict than others. There’s no denying that the EPA’s RRP rules from 2008 are at least a good foundation to build on. Some states have chosen to go further. Perhaps not surprisingly, California’s landlord and tenant laws are quite strict, and that includes the exposure to lead paint. Read through that guide even if you originally came here looking for what you could do to remove the threat of this heavy metal.
We can’t speak to every single state. You may want to Google the rights you have as a tenant in the state you are in. If you cannot agree with the landlord, we have made an article that will help you prepare to report a landlord. We hope your situation doesn’t come to that. In some cases, it just may.
It’s not just at the shooting range that there is a threat of other things than bullets. We have covered what you ought to be doing if you are either the owner of a gun range or if perhaps you’re just a user of one.
You can influence the decisions of the people that own the range. Since 1978 there have been various initiatives to help lower the level of lead exposure. Unfortunately, the shooting range is one of the places you are still exposed.