LEAD AND YOUR HEALTH GUN SHOOTING RANGE SAFETY
In today's environment we need to meet ever more stringent environmental requirements in the private shooting range. We need to inform owners, employees and patrons of the considerable risk of shooting in poorly ventilated gun ranges using metal backstops or other solid backstops, It is in this spirit that we at National Armory have searched for the best solutions to protect our families, employees and patrons. These practice lead to the safest environment possible for a gun shooting range. The practices we subscribe to as stated below are the best possible and create a safe place to shoot. The suggestions and information below is provided for your safety and to give you insight into the relationship of shooting lead bullets and primers in regard to your health.
Lead has been used since ancient times in glazes and paints as well as in plumbing by the ancient
Roman Empire. Today lead has been used for glazed pottery, paint, coatings, radiation protection, toy soldiers, batteries, leaded gasoline, etc, as well as in firearms ammunition.
We now know that lead poses a serious threat to human health and the environment. It is now believed that lead in the water pipes of
actually slowly poisoned the population which resulted in its fall. Rome
The EPA has put the following regulations into effect to protect the population from high lead levels.
1. 1971, the Environmental Protection Agency Lead Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act
2. 1980, EPA set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards to reduce the content of lead in gasoline.
Even with these lead limiting regulations, lead is found in many places including water, soil, and in other natural and man made materials. We should be aware that lead is present and a danger in order to protect the health of our loved ones and ourselves.
EFFECTS OF LEAD ON THE BODY:
In order to look at the serious impact lead has on your health you have to understand how lead is absorbed and what it does to the body.
About 6% of lead ingested or inhaled goes directly into the blood and soft tissues, including the brain, kidneys, liver, lungs and other vital organs. The rest of the lead goes into the bone.
The body believes lead calcium and tries to store it forever as part of the bone. Over time the body will break down lead and it will be removed through urination, sweat, and defecation. However it takes the body 30 to 40 days to remove ½ of the lead in the soft tissue. This is not the biggest problem as it will take 29 years to eliminate ½ the lead from the bone.
Lead poisoning ( plumbism, colica Pictonum, saturnism, Devon colic, or painter's colic) is caused by the heavy metal known as lead being in the body. Lead causes a variety of problems and is toxic to many organs and tissues including the brain, heart, bones, intestines, kidneys, reproductive and nervous systems. It inhibits the development of the nervous system so it is very toxic to children. It can cause permanent learning and behavior disorders. It will cause neuropathy over time which is both pain and numbness.
Typical symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness, weight loss, impotence, renal (kidney) failure, confusion, headache, abdominal pain, anemia, irritability, mood changes, constipation and in severe cases Coma, Seizures, and death. The disease can be very hard to diagnose since it mimics many other diseases. The lead in the system is cumulative so consideration to contact with paint, lead in drinking water, and other sources must be taken into consideration.
EXPOSURE TO LEAD FROM SHOOTING:
1. Lead exposure on civilian shooting ranges occurs as soon as you pull the trigger. This causes breathable lead particulates to be given off by the primer into the air. These minute particles of lead dust come in contact with the shooter's face, hands, and clothing as well as being taken into the lungs with breathing.
2. Minute lead particles also shear off from the projectile that travel from the barrel of the weapon. This happens whether ammunition is jacketed or not due to the exposed lead bases. The bullet leaving the barrel, sends additional hazardous contaminants, into the air. Lead and other chemicals from the bullet and residue of both burnt and unburnt powder are spread as a cloud of smoke around the weapon.
3. When the bullet strikes a solid object like a back stop it also causing it to break up, and releases small particles of lead into the air.
Shooters inhale these small particles, and lead particles go the lungs being quickly absorbed and sent immediately into the blood traveling throughout the body.
In addition being in a hot environment and sweating as well a smoking or physical activity increases the uptake of lead into the system. Lead particles get on the skin. hair, and hands, which can be absorbed through your pores. Lead particles on the mouth, can be ingested directly into the digestive system from licking the mouth, drinking, chewing gum, smoking or eating.
Cleaning a weapon or general range clean-up, increases lead exposure by handling empty casings which result in lead being transferred to the skin, shoes, gun bags, purses and clothing and it will eventually come into contact with the body. Clothing exposed to lead dust should be washed separately from other clothing. Cleaning the weapon pulls out the lead particulates from all the parts and transfers it to the person cleaning the guns hands. Chemicals used to clean and lubricate weapons dry out the skin opening pores which allows lead to migrate into the body.
Always wash all exposed body part immediately after shooting with soap and water completely.
TESTING FOR LEAD:
The BLL Blood Test measures quantity of lead in micrograms per deciliter of blood,
Safe standard below 15 ug/100 dL Children
pregnant women should be below 10 ug/100 dL.
reproductive health, below 30 ug/100 dL. Adult
over 40ug/100 dl person should be removed from any contact with lead
The only effective test used for bone lead levels is the disodium edetate (EDTA)
chelating agent test. EDTA, a solution administered intravenously, bonds with the lead in bone and clears it from body compartments so that it is excreted through the urine. EDTA both tests and treats an individual, but medical personnel use it only in extreme cases of lead poisoning because of potentially harmful side effects.
: FIRING RANGES
1. Don't smoke on the range:
2. Don't eat on the range:
3. Don't collect fired brass in hats:
4. Do be aware that face, arms, and hands are covered with lead particles:
Wash thoroughly with cold water and plenty of soap. Cold water is preferred.
Use wet handwipes or a bottle of cool water and a washcloth for this purpose.
5. Do be aware that hair and clothes are still contaminated:
Wear an outer garment, jumpsuit or coveralls, or change clothes before going home. Wash clothing separately from the family's regular laundry
If you have an infant consider Changing to clean clothing before leaving the range prevents recontamination of the family vehicle.
6. Do change shoes before entering residence:
7. Do avoid physical contact with family members until after a shower.,
REDUCING SHOOTING RANGE CONTAMINATION:
1. Shoot at a gun range that uses a rubber backstop to reduce fragmentation of Lead and airborne particles. ( Like National Armory.)
2. Shoot at a gun range that does not recycle contaminated air. The range should have high output exhaust with fresh filtered air intake and filtered exhaust air. System should have HEPA filtered air. (Like National Armory.)
3. Shoot bullets that have brass or metal jackets covering lead.
4. Use lead free primers if available.
5. Range should have sealed concrete floors
6. Shoot at a range where you must stay behind the firing line
7. Shoot at a range that has been engineered by professional HVAC and Mechanical engineers.
The facilities of National Armory LLC have been designed to the highest safety standard. We have researched and use the best of modern technology to protect the health of our families, employees and our customers. We would expect any facility to do the same. We present this article to bring awareness to all who may benefit and in order to provide the safest practices in sport of shooting.
Gary B. Lampert Ph.D.