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Health hazard evaluation report: evaluation of instructor and range officer exposure to emissions from copper-based frangible ammunition at a military firing range.

Methner MM; Gibbins J; Niemeier T
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, HETA 2012-0091-3187, 2013 Jul; :1-25
The HHE Program evaluated instructors' and range officers' exposure to weapon emissions during qualification sessions inside a partially-enclosed firing range. The range uses copper-based frangible ammunition that breaks into pieces on impact. During medical interviews range personnel reported headaches, sore throat, respiratory symptoms, and metallic taste that they thought were associated with the firing of frangible ammunition. These symptoms were similar to those reported in previous surveys at the facility and were consistent with the types of exposures measured at the facility. The airflow inside the firing range was measured and investigators determined that the ventilation system was not designed to remove air contaminants. Air contaminant concentrations did not exceed occupational exposure limits, but levels of very small particles increased inside the range during firing events. Investigators did find that firing weapons when the propane-fired heater was on produced higher carbon monoxide levels than the heater produced by itself. Investigators also noted that some instructors did not wear eye protection or were wearing eyewear without side shields. Some shooters did not wear hearing protection correctly. HHE Program investigators recommended that the employer modify the ventilation system so that air contaminants are exhausted out of the range and adjust the propane-fired heater to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide produced. The employer should rotate range duties to minimize time spent inside the range during firing events. Investigators also recommended reminding employees about the types and proper use of hearing protection and requiring eyewear with side shields inside the range.
Region-8; Copper-compounds; Copper-dust; Respiratory-irritants; Metallic-compounds; Metallic-dusts; Metals; Ventilation; Ventilation-systems; Air-flow; Personal-protective-equipment; Personal-protection; Ear-protection; Ear-protectors; Eye-shields; Eye-protection; Author Keywords: National Security; copper; frangible ammunition; nanoparticles; weapons emissions; ventilation; carbon monoxide
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Hazard Evaluation and Technical Assistance
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
HETA-2012-0091-3187; B20130805
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division