When guns are in the news it seems to create an increased interest by the general public in purchasing firearms. There is also a corresponding increase in interest in the use of indoor shooting ranges. There are thousands of shooting ranges in the United States with many new ones being added each year. In terms of facility-use, defined practices dictate ‘safety first’ as would be expected when using firearms but what about the air quality in these enclosed facilities? Lead can damage the brain, blood, nerves, kidneys and reproductive organs. This damage can cause serious disability: memory loss, extreme tiredness, emotional problems, even kidney failure, coma or death. How do these indoor shooting ranges protect the health of their employees and customers? Similarly range owners want to protect themselves from the wrath of U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Fines can be in the thousands of dollars, and in one Florida case, the fine was over 2 million dollars for a multi-location range owner.
Camfil, the world’s largest producer of air quality products publishes a brochure — Shooting Ranges, Design, Ventilation & Air Filtration, that addresses the requirements for maintaining proper indoor air quality to protect employees and the shooters using the indoor range.
It details range design, outside air introduction, ventilating the range, recirculation of air and contaminant removal. It also details filtration choices from filter housings to prefilters, to the recommended final stage of SafeRange HEPA filters for hazardous contaminant capture and removal.
Exposure to lead dust and fumes at an indoor firing range can present a potential health risk to shooters, instructors and range employees. Protecting the health of range employees and shooters, while minimizing environmental contamination from lead exposures, are paramount goals for range owners and local authorities. Not only can people be exposed to lead by breathing in lead dust or fumes while inside a shooting range, they can also ingest lead by eating, drinking or smoking after coming in contact with lead particulate or contaminated objects. Using the proper filtration to remove lead at its source can significantly reduce risks.