When people talk about safety at indoor firing ranges, they are usually focused on the weapons. Range operators and their employees, however, should be just as concerned about lead exposure.
Decades after the United States outlawed the use of lead paint, lead contamination remains an environmental and social concern. It is a concern that gun range owners and operators cannot afford to ignore.
According to information gathered and quoted by The Trace, there are about 7,000 shooting ranges in the United States, with a total of about 20 million visitors every year. Even if each visitor used only one bullet, that is still a lot of lead released into the air and ground. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey estimates that one firing range could use up to 20 tons of lead shot and bullets each year.
These numbers add up to real-world issues at firing ranges. Numerous laws have proposed to ban lead-based ammunition. An article in the Washington Times lists several examples of people suffering symptoms of lead poisoning due to exposure at gun ranges. Sacramento closed an indoor firing range in Mangan Park in 2015 due to hazardous levels of lead dust that accumulated for decades.
Firing ranges, especially indoor operations, should make lead cleanup and air quality a top priority. Numerous agencies and organizations have issued regulations and guidelines to address lead cleanup, but requirements can vary by location and are often difficult to follow. When attempting to clean up lead contamination, failure to adhere to best practices can make matters worse, compromising the health of workers, visitors, and the environment.
The best approach is to seek out a qualified, trusted contractor who can use proper equipment to follow recommended procedures for lead cleanup. Range operators who put forth their best efforts to implement lead cleanup and improve the air quality at their facilities ensure the health and safety of their workers and customers, avoid potential closure, and enhance their reputations.
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