Reducing Exposure to Lead and Noise at Indoor Firing Ranges
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2010-113
Workers and users of indoor firing ranges may be exposed to hazardous levels of lead and noise. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends steps for workers and employers to reduce exposures.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1 million Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers work in the United States [DOJ 2004]. They are required to train regularly in the use of firearms. Indoor firing ranges are often used because of their controlled conditions (see Figure 1). In addition to workers, more than 20 million active target shooters practice at indoor firing ranges. Law enforcement officers may be exposed to high levels of lead and noise at indoor firing ranges. NIOSH estimates that 16,000 to 18,000 firing ranges operate in the United States.
Several studies of firing ranges have shown that exposure to lead and noise can cause health problems associated with lead exposure and hearing loss, particularly among employees and instructors. Lead exposure occurs mainly through inhalation of lead fumes or ingestion (e.g., eating or drinking with contaminated hands).