Indoor firing ranges can be a wonderful additional feature of your gun range, whether as a compliment to an outdoor range or a standalone site. However, the proper handling and disposal of lead is one of the most important things to consider, if not the most important. Furthermore, as an indoor range, lead maintenance is a constant part of your routine. It pays to select reputable, qualified contractors to take on this task for you. Any indoor range will be under the watchful eyes of OSHA and the EPA, and hefty fines can and do happen…as evidenced by a recent Federal Grand Jury indictment you have probably seen in the news!
First, look for well-known respected contractors who put an emphasis on safety and compliance regulation. Unfortunately, many contractors offer cheap services that are both haphazard and incomplete in their cleanup practices. What firing range owners and managers don’t realize is that this actually puts them in a negative spot when the contractor they choose skirts proper lead hazardous waste procedures.
When choosing a contractor, look for testimonials, preferably from police departments or reputable shooting ranges you may have contact with. If the contractor has none to display, that’s a red flag. In fact, Google “Firing Range Services” and see what comes up, this is a great Google resume’!
Furthermore, a reputable contractor will be licensed and well versed in EPA & OSHA regulations. In addition to the aforementioned safety, they will provide consultation on range improvement, pointing out any hazards regarding unsafe lead levels or buildups.
Choosing a poor contractor who neither possesses the knowledge or accreditation to properly clean your range can cost you dearly. In the end, this will come back to hurt your range stability in the forms of fines, legal trouble, health problems for your employees, or at worst, a complete shutdown. In 2012, Illinois Gun Works, Ltd received $100,000 in fines for lead-related violations. They later shut down as a result.
OSHA emphasizes employee health and safety. Indoor ranges need to be even more vigilant to satisfy their regulations, as they have air quality to consider. When a projectile hits the backdrop at a range, lead may become airborne. Thus, airborne lead levels are something that needs to be considered and dealt with. The action level threshold, according to OSHA, is 30 micrograms of lead/cubic meter of air.
Indoor ranges need to be particularly focused on their lead management and hazardous waste disposal practices. Failure to do so can lead to severe penalties that dictate the future of the range’s operation. Look for services that stress lead abatement and range remediation, revolving around OSHA and EPA guidelines. Make sure all the range’s employees are well versed on acceptable thresholds and environmental/government regulations. With the proper steps and a focus on preparation, you can avoid penalties and take advantage of an indoor range.
As firing range operators and the local municipalities try to follow or enforce regulations, respectively, both state and federal, a growing chasm develops between enforcement policies and results. The chasm doesn’t develop immediately, but over the years. Observance and enforcement of regulations on produces a ‘regulation deficit’, allowing the problem of lead poisoning to persist and create even greater problems than envisioned.
Though booths, cleaning procedures and filtering systems have improved over the years, the problem with lead exposure persists. The most accepted method of eliminating the problem involves filtering systems and developing consistent airflow patterns for enclosed firing ranges.
Despite the assurance given by using the accepted method’s, Baystreet reports on testing done on a firing range that operated for years: “All of this occurred in a shop that followed a strict regimen of daily cleaning, as well as a weekly ‘deep cleaning’ and used an air circulation system that constantly pulled fresh air into the building, never recirculating the air inside.” Strictly following regulations failed to produce the anticipated results. A dangerous chasm developed.
Reported in earlier articles, firing ranges that operated for years often grew to contaminate the area outside the enclosed range – including roofs, soil and possibly ground water. They often used re-circulated air, but still emitted old exposed air. Testing revealed the lead from the guns had literally penetrated walls and other structures within these old facilities, too. Direct exposure to the hot gas tainted with lead, exploding from the gun’s chamber into the interior atmosphere, appeared as one cause of the widespread contamination.
Though no studies exist, plenty examples provide insight. Everyone has experienced how hot or cool some paint colors become on a warm day. Darker colored paint absorbs heat better than lighter colored paints do. The hot gas from a gun’s firing has the same effect. Tainted with lead, the heat warms up the inside of an enclosed firing range. The question is whether the Nano-sized lead particles compromise the paint, drywall and other structural components – making all efforts over time to cleanse of it lead poisoning fruitless.
MT2 is the Leading Nationwide Professional Lead Reclamation & Maintenance Contractor for BOTH Indoor & Outdoor Firing Ranges and has served over 1,200 public and private firing ranges nationwide since 2000. MT2’s firing range services include complete range maintenance, improvements and lead remediation services.