The United States Department of Labor recommends employees working in high-lead environments every six months. So, if an individual is using a shooting range regularly, getting tested every six months is reasonable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead.
Inhaled or ingested lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. Over time, it collects and is stored in the bones, leading to significant and even permanent damage to a person's organs and health. The severity of the damage depends on how much lead is in the body and the length of exposure.
It can lead to conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, decreased sex drive, infertility, memory loss and difficulty concentrating, hearing and vision problems, tiredness, irritability and mood disorder. Also, pregnant women exposed to lead to a lower risk of reduced fetal growth, and children suffer a lower IQ and cognitive function.
If an indoor gun range does not have proper air ventilation, then shooters, range employees and visitors are exposed to lead dust that comes out of the gun's muzzle when fired. Even if it is not inhaled, lead dust can linger in the air and collect on the shooter 's hands, face and clothing, where it can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed into the body later.
This puts the shooter's family at risk since lead particles on skin and clothing can be carried into vehicles and homes. "Take home lead" is harmful to anyone exposed to it, especially young children and pregnant women.
Indoor are safe when there are precautions when cleaning the residue, such as wet mopping debris or using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter rather than dry sweeping or shoveling to remove debris. Unfortunately, ventilation systems occasionally fail, so it is important to stay vigilant.
Be aware of the features of certain ammunition, which may decrease the lead hazard . For example, jacketed bullets create less dust when discharged. Since loading bullets also can release lead particles into the air, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, not around children or in a residence and are wearing proper protective equipment.
When using a firing range, wash your hands and face before you eat, drink or smoke and never eat, drink or smoke in areas of lead dust and fumes. Before you leave, shower and change your clothes and shoes if possible. Place your shooting clothes in a tied bag and wash them separately from the family laundry .
Keep firearm materials away from living areas and do not put leaded material in your mouth. In the majority of adult cases, the primary treatment is removal from the source. The body will excrete lead slowly and, if exposure does not recur, will eventually eliminate the excess lead . This will result in resolution of at least some of the symptoms.
Chelation therapy is used in rare cases when the patient is critically ill or has severe elevations in the blood lead level . However, chelation has no benefit in patients with lower levels and more nonspecific symptoms.