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There are 152 private firing ranges, shooting clubs, and training centers in Massachusetts, as well as numerous law enforcement ranges. Each year there are shooters, instructors, and maintenance staff that become sick from lead poisoning received at their range.

• The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in one review of school-sponsored rifle teams, a coach was found to have a Blood Lead Level (BLL) of 44 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dl), and one of the students to have a BLL of 31 mcg/dl. This is significant since BLLs as low as 5 mcg/dl have been shown to have negative health effects in adults and children.

• In Massachusetts, several range officers at a local police firing range were confirmed to have blood lead levels of 20 to 35 mcg/dl. The MA Occupational Lead Poisoning Registry worked cooperatively with the municipality to inspect the range and its operating procedures. Sampling revealed significant lead dust in the facility. The MA Workplace Safety and Health Program recommended the range remain closed until cleaned, and improved safety and health methods were implemented.

Lead dust and fumes can be generated by ammunition or primer

Lead dust and fumes can be generated by ammunition or primer

Bullets/projectiles hitting the bullet trap, walls, floors, or ceiling of the range create lead dust.

Bullets/projectiles hitting the bullet trap, walls, floors, or ceiling of the range create lead dust.

Ventilation and a dedicated area away from food preparation is recommended for casting bullets.

Ventilation and a dedicated area away from food preparation is recommended for casting bullets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lead has been shown to cause health problems, even at low levels. Poisoning may occur over a prolonged time or due to a single exposure.

If you are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of lead poisoning, know that these are some typical health effects:

lead-health-effects

To avoid becoming poisoned don’t eat, drink, or smoke inside the range. Coffee pots, coffee mugs and water bottles should not be allowed inside the range. Wash hands and face before eating, drinking or smoking. Wash hands and face immediately after shooting, cleaning firearms, picking up spent casings/pellets/bullets or reloading ammunition. Wipe hands and face with a moist towellette if running water is not available.

For more tips on how to avoid lead poisoning on the range, please go to: www.mass.gov/dols/registry.

Written By:


Manager of Safety/Health, Department of Labor Standards

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