Today and the next few posts we would like to focus on the shooting sports, a very popular hobby with thousands of fans. There are many gun clubs, firing ranges, and sports shooters who enjoy their hobby on a regular basis. And of course, when you are enjoying yourself, you don’t often think of any hidden dangers to your health. You’re just out having fun with your friends.
However, there is a constant health risk of lead dust and fumes at every shooting site particularly at indoor firing ranges. Every time a gun (shotgun, rifle, handgun/pistol) is fired, or a firearm is cleaned, lead dust, invisible to the naked eye, accumulates on skin, on clothing, and nearby surfaces, equipment, furniture, etc. It is then inhaled and/or ingested and can then cause serious health problems. Without taking the necessary precautions, lead dust can also contaminate shooter’s cars and homes, and young children can then be poisoned by the lead-contaminated dust brought into the home.
Law enforcement trainees are at risk as they frequent shooting ranges (most likely indoor) more often than gun enthusiasts. However, firearms instructors are more likely to be contaminated as they spend the most time at firing ranges.
Reloaders are especially at risk since they handle the lead shot more directly and often, working with the bags that store the lead shot to the reloading equipment. The areas when reloaders work are then totally contaminated with lead dust, and unless properly maintained, the contamination can spread throughout the home.
Washing lead dust off is not easy. Since it is invisible to the naked eye, it is difficult to assess the danger. Also, simply washing with plain soap and water will not significantly reduce the spread of contamination or the danger of ingestion. To be successful, you must wash with cold water and lather/scrub for at least 15-20 seconds, rinse, and then repeat the process. Of course, using a specialty soap with an active ingredient that produces a fast acting chemical process that bonds with the lead residue and allows it to be washed away is optimal for health and safety reasons. Easy-to-use swab tests can confirm that there is no longer any lead residue and will provide additional peace of mind.