Exposure to lead and other harmful elements associated with fire arms is a major health risk many shooters face. The majority of ammunition used by shooters comes with lead sulfuric primers and bullets made of lead. Jacketed bullets also have a presence of lead at the base. There is a high chance of inhaling these chemicals once the ammunition is fired, because the lead from the bullets, along with the lead and other chemicals in the primers, can vaporize somewhat during firing.
Handling metal targets & fired brass, cleaning dirty firearms etc. are also potential sources of lead exposure. Excessive lead exposure can cause severe health problems and is dangerous, especially to infants, children, and pregnant women.
The following are some of the best practices to help reduce lead exposure from shooting ranges:
Be Extra Cautious
Firearm instructors, range employees and people who spend the most time at shooting ranges are more vulnerable to lead poisoning. Those who spend more time at indoor ranges should take extra care to avoid exposure during recreational shooting.
Prefer Properly Ventilated Shooting Ranges
A majority of the indoor shooting ranges are built with very effective ventilation systems in order to reduce lead exposure. Older shooting ranges may not be built to the highest new standards and may not recirculate air properly. It’s better to look for advanced, modern shooting ranges for better safety and to avoid health risks.
Avoid Consuming Food While Shooting
Consuming water or food while shooting can result in unnoticed absorption of lead and other contaminants into the body. If possible, do not eat or drink while handling ammunition, especially spent casings.
Wash Your Hands & Face Properly
Clean your hands and face properly to avoid the risk of settled lead residue on your body. Use cold water, as hot water will open the pores on your skin, increasing absorption of chemicals on skin.
Clean Your Clothes
Once the shooting practice is over, change your clothes and wash them separately from other laundries. Avoid wearing shoes used at ranges indoors to avoid tracking contaminants into your home from the soles of your shoes.
Always wear gloves and eye protection
You can reduce lead exposure to a great extent by using gloves while handling firearms. Eye protection also helps in reducing the risk of chemicals entering into the permeable membranes of your eyes.
Use Lead Free Ammo
Lead free ammo replaces lead sulfuric primer compounds. There are also other varieties available which encapsulate the bullet in a copper jacket to avoid lead atomization during the process of firing. Though lead free ammunition is typically more expensive, it is a much safer option.
Check the Level of Lead in Your Body
The chance of accumulating lead content in your blood is extremely high if you are a high volume shooter, instructor, or a range employee. It’s important to consult your doctor and make sure you’re your levels are normal. Make sure to follow up your test result even if the level is within the normal range.
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