Finding information on bullet traps online is easy, but not all of them, necessarily, give you recommendations on how to handle proper cleanup of potential lead contamination resulting from long-term shooting into the traps. Don’t forget, that even with an excellent trap, not every bullet goes where it is intended. The professional lead maintenance contractor can assist your gun range with making certain that the entire range is in compliance and clear of stray lead contaminants. It is much easier and safer to find it for yourself than to let an EPA or OSHA inspection surprise you.
Modern ranges have varying trap systems which are great innovations. They do wonders for preventing so much contamination that used to occur constantly. That is as long as they are in good repair. The NSSF has a great overview article here.
Evaluating a trap is not a job to be trusted to the naked eye alone. Minute cracks need professional equipment to detect and repair properly. That is where the professional comes in. Trained technicians, up to date equipment, accurate diagnosis of the problem or even confirmation that all is well. This level of attention leads to proper corrections before a small problem becomes a major situation.
Gun range owners are faced with more and more regulations and restrictions. At the same time, they want to make sure they have a clean, safe environment for all their shooters and employees which helps people enjoy the experience and come back again and again.
Shooting has become a recreational hobby for many across the United States. Obsolete are the days when we think of firearms being for military use only. It’s become common for men, women, and children as young as 6 years old to enjoy a day at their local range learning the rules to firearm safety.
But there are potential hidden dangers lurking in both indoor and outdoor ranges if the care of the facility is not properly managed. Lead poisoning has long been associated with paint chips from older houses, but studies have shown that there are other threats contributing to this phenomenon. One Alaskan study showed that from 1995-2012 a contributor of lead poisoning in children ages 6-18 was from firing ranges. Lead can be potentially inhaled from the air, or exposure can come from run-off rain water possibly making its way into our water systems.
Here are a few precautions you can take personally or recommend to your shooters after a day at the range:
- Place your clothes directly into the washing machine once you return from shooting. Lead dust may accumulate on clothing and could be inhaled not only by you, but also by loved ones that may have stayed at home.
- Leave your shooting shoes outdoors.
- Always clean your gun over a disposable surface to catch any falling dust; i.e. Newspaper, trash bag
- Shower immediately after returning home.
There are also precautions ranges owners should take. Using resources from companies like MT2 can help maintain the proper guidelines from the OSHA, EPA, and RCRA. When it comes to the basic rules of firearm safety most of us are quick to teach the proper use of handling and shooting our weapon. But we also need to make sure we protect ourselves from the silent threats of lead poisoning surrounding our firearms entertainment.
Indoor Firing Range Maintenance It’s Complicated!
Routine maintenance of your indoor range is necessary to maintain regulatory compliance. This protects the environment; as well as workers, shooters, and other shooting range occupants (known here as “personnel”) from exposure to toxic lead. Maintenance operations are regulated by EPA Lead Law and Clean Air Act; NIOSH; and RCRA. Violations can carry heavy fines, range closure, and even jail time. You can be prosecuted but rest easy, by following some structured guidelines, you can set your mind at ease that you are following the Best Management Practices that lead to your range staying in compliance.
Guidance from NIOSH and OSHA helps, but thorough, compliant shooting range maintenance is complicated! A certified lead contracting service; with special training and knowledge of regulations; is likely your best bet for comprehensive, ongoing regulatory compliance.
EVERY shooting range maintenance operation requires both: proper lead handling and disposal.
- Housekeeping: Wet mopping and HEPA filter vacs are the recommended way to clean the range.HEPA filters must be changed regularly; according to manufacturer’s direction. Note: Discarded filters, and mop water may be considered hazardous waste and must be disposed of in accordance with applicable waste rules and regulations. Do not put lead containing waste down the drain!
- PPE: Provide, use, and care for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE can be things such as coveralls, knee pads, respirators, skin and eye protection. This requires daily cleaning after use, routine filter changes, and careful storage. Note: Lead-contaminated PPE and cleaning wipes are often sampled and determined to be hazardous waste and requires appropriate, compliant handling.
- Common practices: Avoid eating, drinking, or smoking at the range and before proper cleaning of hands and face after shooting. Provide certified skin cleaning wipes. Do not allow lead-contaminated clothing e.g. coveralls in eating areas. Personnel should shower and change before leaving the range. If there is a facility at the range, protective clothing may be laundered. Note: Lead-contaminated shower water, laundry water, and skin cleaning wipes may be considered hazardous waste and must be handled in an appropriate, compliant manner.
- Ventilation filters: Ventilation filters must be checked upon installation and, depending upon use and concentration of lead in the air, every 3 months. Filters must also be check if there is any change that incurs a significant difference in amount of lead in the ambient air. Some range filters are tested positive as hazardous waste and require RCRA-compliant handling.
- PPE maintenance: Routine, documented assessment of respirators and PPE with review of proper handling techniques are recommended.
- Inspections: Perform and document all self inspections; and you may want to hire a professional consultant familiar with all OSHA/EPA regulations on an annual basis to help keep your programs up to date.
- Blood testing: Even without symptoms, personnel need an annual blood test to determine their Blood Lead Level (BLL). This required biological testing must be recorded and records retained according to law.
- Education: Range employee lead hazards training is, at the very least, annual. It may be required or advisable to hold lead training sessions more often; but yearly is the minimum requirement.
Proper, regulatory-compliant maintenance of an indoor shooting range requires a comprehensive Health And Safety Plan (see Indoor Firing Range Maintenance: Part II) for maintenance HASP information.
MT2 is the Nation’s leader in providing BMP’s to all indoor and outdoor firing ranges and is the #1 and Largest Nationwide Professional Firing Range Lead Reclamation and Maintenance Contractor with a proven record. Services includes: complete firing range maintenance & improvements, lead remediation services, lead reclamation, OSHA & environmental consulting, operational maintenance and range closure. MT2’s zero-tolerance for regulatory violations gives range owners the peace of mind that their project will be successfully completed on a guaranteed schedule. No one can complete an Environmental or firing range lead reclamation project quicker and safer than MT2. Contact us today for a free firing range analysis, complete our online range questionnaire.