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Reducing exposure to lead and noise at outdoor firing ranges.

Kardous CA; Afanuh S
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-104, 2012 Nov; :1-4
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recently published recommendations for reducing exposure to lead and noise at indoor firing ranges [NIOSH 2009]. However, workers and users of outdoor firing ranges may be exposed to similar hazards. This followup document examines exposures at these ranges and recommends steps to reduce such exposures. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 1.2 million Federal, State, and local law enforcement officers work in the United States [DOJ 2012, 2011]. These officers are required to train regularly in the use of firearms and may be exposed to hazardous levels of lead and noise if they train at outdoor ranges. In addition to law enforcement, NIOSH estimates that shooting ranges employ 40,000-60,000 workers, and that about 15% of the U.S. population, or 34.4 million people, participate in target shooting [NSSF 2010]. Several studies of outdoor firing ranges have shown that exposure to lead and noise can cause health problems, particularly among employees and instructors [NIOSH 2011; Tripathi et al. 1991; Goldberg et al. 1991]. Lead exposure occurs mainly through inhalation of lead dust, skin contact with lead from bullets, or ingestion (e.g., eating or drinking with contaminated hands) [NIOSH 2009]. Workers and shooters involved in shooting, cleaning operations, collecting casings, and handling spent bullets may also be exposed to lead. An estimated 9,000 non-military outdoor ranges exist in the United States, with millions of pounds of lead from bullets shot annually. Because outdoor ranges are typically built in an open area, lead and noise are more widely dispersed. Outdoor ranges need less cleaning and maintenance than indoor ranges. However, despite the natural ventilation of outdoor firing ranges, personal breathing zone lead levels can exceed the NIOSH recommended exposure limit (REL) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure limit (PEL) [Mancuso et al. 2008]. Some outdoor ranges have ballistic baffles overhead and concrete walls and structures on the sides. The air in these spaces can become stagnant and lead to increased exposures.
Noise-analysis; Noise-control; Noise-exposure; Noise-induced-hearing-loss; Impulse-noise; Law-enforcement-workers; Work-environment; Police-officers; Auditory-system; Dosimetry; Sound; Soundproofing; Noise-measurement; Environmental-control; Noise-levels; Lead-dust; Heavy-metals; Engineering-controls; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Exposure-levels; Lead-compounds; Noise; Noise-levels; Gunpowder; Workers; Hearing-impairment; Hearing-protection; Hearing
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Workplace Solutions
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2013-104; B20121218C
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 25, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division