Study: Commercial Shooting Ranges Loaded with Lead
(By Christine Willmsen,Lewis Kamb and Justin Mayo The Seattle Times)
SEATTLE — A confused 38-year-old father in Kentucky rarely crawled out of bed.
A conservation volunteer in Iowa lost feeling in his hands and feet.
A 5-year-old girl in South King County, Washington, doubled over in pain and vomited.
The cause of their suffering: lead poisoning. The source: dirty gun ranges.
Indoor and outdoor, public and private, gun ranges dot the national landscape like bullet holes riddling a paper target, as the popularity of shooting has rocketed to new heights with an estimated 40 million recreational shooters annually.
But a hidden risk lies within almost all of America’s estimated 10,000 gun ranges. When shooters fire guns with lead-based ammunition, they spread lead vapor and dust, insidious toxins.
Thousands of people, including workers, shooters and their family members, have been contaminated at shooting ranges due to poor ventilation and contact with lead-coated surfaces, a Seattle Times investigation has found.
Those most at risk are employees who work around firearms, unknowingly inhaling lead-tinged dust and fumes as they instruct customers and clean shooting ranges of spent ammunition. Lead exposure can cause an array of health problems — from nausea and fatigue to organ damage, mental impairment and even death.