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Indoor range lead levels -concerns/opinions

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Foundryratjim
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Post by CentralPA22 Wed Feb 22, 2023 3:22 pm

First topic message reminder :

Hi all, I have been shooting at a local indoor gun range for the last 2 months approximately 2-3 times a week on average. The gun range has 6 shooting lanes with a ventilation system. You can't feel air on your face, although something is in place behind the backstop and also small floor units in front of each Stahl with filters. When all the lanes are full there is A LOT of smoke in the place and often times you can taste it after you leave. I noticed several of the workers wearing canister masks when shooting and going into the range. I questioned why and was told their lead levels were very high from sweeping the range in the evening which made perfect sense. A few weeks later I started feeling uncharacteristically tired and more diarrhea than I'd like to talk about. Another friend that shoots the indoor league was also complaining that he was having similar symptoms and had his blood levels checked and came back high (40's). So, I had a blood level test ordered and it also came back high (mid 30+s -normal being under 20). My Question: have others that shoot indoor leagues/tournaments been faced with the same scenario? Has anyone had their levels checked and if so does wearing a proper dust/lead cartridge style mask prevent the exposure completely? I understand washing your hands with a lead free soap is imperative after handling ammo and this was done each time I shot. My concern is with my health but more importantly my son's health. He enjoys shooting with me and it's a great bonding experience. My only option at this point is to quit shooting the local indoor league until I feel it is safe. The local indoor range owner is an excellent person and has reached out and assured me they were taking steps in the right direction to change filters and clean and there is a ventilation system in place. What are your opinions on the safety of this lead exposure and returning to indoor shooting in the cold winter months?

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Post by RodJ Tue Feb 28, 2023 1:52 pm

https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nbsspecialpublication480-26.pdf

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Post by Axehandle Wed Mar 01, 2023 10:19 am

Lots to know here.  I still recomend starting with NSSF

Ranges • NSSF

For some light reading try


1910.1025 - Lead. | Occupational Safety and Health Administration (osha.gov)

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Post by Dan Webb Wed Mar 01, 2023 10:35 am

There may be money available to improve air quality of your club's indoor range. About 25 years ago (WOW! does time fly!) a club member applied for a Pittman Robertson grant to purchase a HEPA air filtration system for our club. If I remember correctly, we were awarded $25,000 towards the purchase of the unit. The labor was 100% club supplied. We were fortunate to have members who were Carpenters, Millwrights, Electricians, Steelworkers and Laborers as trades that pitched in to get installed.

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Post by SteveT Wed Mar 01, 2023 11:31 am

RodJ wrote:https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nbsspecialpublication480-26.pdf
Thanks, that's great info. Saved me a bunch of web searching.
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Post by RodJ Wed Mar 01, 2023 1:14 pm

SteveT wrote:
RodJ wrote:https://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/Legacy/SP/nbsspecialpublication480-26.pdf
Thanks, that's great info. Saved me a bunch of web searching.

Happy to help.  I’ve spent 30 years as an environmental lawyer, starting in air pollution control and spending over half my time in that area.  

For folks interested in upgrading indoor range ventilation, the key to inhalation protection at the line, and to some extent preventing surface deposition on equipment and clothes, is proper design of the air handling system to ensure consistent laminar air flow.  No turbulence and no induced turbulence on the downwind side of objects.  Turbulence can actually concentrate contaminants.

Filtration is not the primary issue unless the building ventilation was designed as a Stoner direct gas impingement system, where the exhaust is routed back to the inlet (NOT recommended affraid)

For those with a new Range USA shooting range nearby, their air handling systems appear to be well-designed and, at my range, the management is strict about shutting down the range if the system gets out of balance.  There are a couple older ranges where I used to shoot and I won’t go there anymore. There is a ventilation system but it was shocking how poorly it worked.

Final note, I’m glad for this thread. It’s got me thinking a lot more about my hygiene and risks, and it’s got me making changes and getting tested. When I researched the I’ll effects of lead poisoning, I was surprised - the list includes high blood pressure which is already an issue for me and a host of nerve issues such as essential tremors.  Fortunately for most of the public, lead poisoning is largely a thing of the past.  Unleaded gasoline and removing lead from most paint being critical to that accomplishment.  

Thanks for brining this up and to everyone who has posted!

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Post by Pioneer41 Wed Mar 01, 2023 8:30 pm

Glad to see others paying attention to this. 
I was first tested about 10 years ago and had elevated lead levels. Others have talked eloquently about hygiene or masking already, but I also bought a disposable nitrile gloves that I wear while cleaning guns and reloading. Skin absorption is a potential method of exposure, and no way the stuff that comes out of guns in cleaning solvents is good for you. Or lead particles while reloading. 

Someone else mentioned it, but everything I read says the younger you are the worse the consequences of lead exposure are likely to be. I take extra precautions when I'll be spending time with little kids.

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Post by wbnash3 Mon Mar 06, 2023 9:16 am

A couple of years ago I had my lead levels checked.  I was shooting at least once a week at an indoor range.  I was at the high end of the normal range.

That made me adopt a procedure to help the lead levels.  I would go to the range at off time hours so there were very few, if any, other shooters.  I washed my hands immediately with D-Lead soap.  I would wipe off my face, hat (always wear one to keep lead in the air from settling on my head), my ear pro and my bag with D-Lead wipes.
 
When I got home I washed my clothes and tennis shoes in D-Lead laundry soap.

That caused my lead levels to drop to less than 1/2 of the prior level, in spite of increasing my indoor range time.

I shoot completely enclosed bullets.  FMJ are open at the back.  Plated or polymer coated bullets are fully covered.  Yes...I know others may use bullets with exposed lead at the back at the range when I am shooting, but I at least cut down what is right in front of my  face.

The range has changed hands at the ventilation is much better.

Every little bit helps...
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Post by mikemyers Mon Mar 06, 2023 11:04 am

I usually shoot at an outdoor range - only rarely visit indoor ranges.  

Before my last blood tests, I asked my doctor to do the test for lead, but it was not performed properly, and I need to repeat.

"Unable to report.
Specimen was not submitted in a trace
element-free tube. Initial testing
indicated an elevated lead level
however, this may reflect the presence
of lead in the lavender (EDTA) tube 
rather than the patient's blood. Repeat
testing using a specimen drawn in an
optimal tube is recommended, such as
lead-free tan-top tube or trace 
element-free EDTA or sodium heparin
royal blue-top tube."


How many days/weeks/months does it take for a high lead level to return to a safe level?
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Post by jwax Mon Mar 06, 2023 1:48 pm

Goodness Mike- your blood clinic doesn't know what vial to use for a lead (heavy metal) test? Scheesh!

Lead is interpreted by the body as similar to calcium, so it's absorbed by the bones. In severe cases, that lead will not exit the bone. It stays, along with the effects of lead poisoning. Extreme cases are relieved by chelation therapy, which is not a fun time from what I hear.

Again, there is no "normal" range for lead content. Zero is normal.

No doctor here, but caution must be used in handling/exposing oneself (and your living partners) to excessive lead. Get tested periodically, and take preventative measures.
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Post by mikemyers Mon Mar 06, 2023 2:11 pm

What can I say; I hope they are more careful on my next test, in a week or so.

When I started reloading in the 1980's, I didn't know much about this.  Then I got much more careful about washing afterwards, and I bought a can of the D-Wipe towels.  I haven't been reloading in months, and because my car is off at the body shop, I haven't even been going to the range in almost a month.  As to the range, I've been shooting at an outdoor range for the past ten years or so.  I need to do a lot more reading about this.  I hope that mistakes I might have made 40 or 50 years ago will have gone away by now.

I read up above " I was shooting at least once a week at an indoor range.  I was at the high end of the normal range."  For shooters what might be the "normal range"?
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Post by jwax Mon Mar 06, 2023 2:28 pm

In 15 years of Precision Pistol shooting, I've seen lead levels from zero to 60 amongst shooters.
Here in New York State, if your reading is above 15, you'll be getting a phone call from the state asking lots of questions about how you got dosed. The Dept. of Labor wants to know if you're getting exposed at your workplace. The interview is both intimidating and personal.
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Post by RodJ Wed Mar 08, 2023 8:07 pm

So my results came back under 6

For reference I shoot 1-2x / week about 3 hours total at an indoor range, Range USA.  I shoot CCI SV or similar and maybe 25-75 rounds max of 45 LSWC, hytek coating. Typically the range is full or close, 10 lanes.

 I reload maybe 1-2 boxes per week. I am haphazard about our monthly match. Maybe make it 3x/ year outdoor and only shoot .22. 

Hygiene- I try to remember to wash my hands with regular soap at the range, and try to remember to change shirt when I get home.  Frankly I’m embarrassed about that. I always wash my hands after reloading.  No PPE of any kind.

I attribute the relatively low BLL to the ventilation system at the range.  It is excellent and the RSOs shut it down immediately if the system signals out of balance or other problem. For years I shot off and on at two other loacations.  Terrible ventilation and I won’t shoot there anymore.

Going forward I got a container of d-lead hand wipes and have started using them on my hands and face, and to wipe down my briefcase and ear muffs.

Hope that helps someone.

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Post by wbnash3 Wed Mar 08, 2023 9:33 pm

Many medical sites say up to 10 mcg/dL is normal. That is the standard that my doctor and the lab that does my lead level testing utilize as the standard. That is for adults. For children as low as 3.5 can cause serious deficits.

10-25 is a sign that you are regularly exposed to blood.

At 80 consider treatment. Treat at less than that if there are symptoms.
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Post by mikemyers Wed Mar 08, 2023 9:54 pm

Curious, what are the common symptoms?

I go in for another test early next week, with all my other routine tests.
Hopefully they'll use the correct collection tube this time.

I almost always shoot out doors for the past 5 or 6 years.  I haven't been active in reloading in almost a year.  I try to wash up at the range before going home, but that doesn't always happen.
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Post by mikemyers Thu Mar 23, 2023 9:31 am

For the repeat test, they used the proper "collection tube", and I just got back the results:

8.0 mcg/dL


The test report says that 8.0 is considered "high".
From what I'm reading here, it isn't excessively high to where I need to do anything about it?
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Post by jwax Thu Mar 23, 2023 10:08 am

Yes Mike, a level of 8 is "high". More than zero. However, you probably won't have any symptoms.
Keep cleaning, launder clothes after shooting, avoid improper ventilated ranges, wear gloves during reloading.
Test annually, and take further actions if the level rises.
We have to also be concerned about what we bring home from the ranges/reloading also. You may give your roommates a dose of lead also.
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Post by DonBrummer Fri Mar 24, 2023 10:21 pm

I regularly shoot at 3 different ranges and 2 of them have extremely poor ventilation systems. My lead levels were at 26 three years ago and since then I've gotten it down to 4 by wearing a respirator every time I shoot an an indoor range or when reloading.  I change the filters every 6 months.  IMO this GVS P100 unit doesn't interfere with my shooting.

https://www.amazon.com/GVS-SPR457-Elipse-Respirator-Medium/dp/B013SIIBFQ?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1&psc=1
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Post by popchevy Mon Apr 10, 2023 11:05 am

Hospital just called, results of my blood test show a lead level of 32.7 . They are going to refer me to a specialist. Our indoor season has almost ended, but for now I am done. Not sure what to tell the doctor, they asked me why I wanted tested and told them I race RC cars and was soldering a lot.

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Post by jwax Mon Apr 10, 2023 11:52 am

popchevy wrote:Hospital just called, results of my blood test show a lead level of 32.7 . They are going to refer me to a specialist. Our indoor season has almost ended, but for now I am done. Not sure what to tell the doctor, they asked me why I wanted tested and told them I race RC cars and was soldering a lot.

Sorry to hear of those elevated levels! Were you ever tested before? Calls for a change in your indoor range, cleaning procedures, clothing, etc.
Time to dryfire for a few months, then test again.
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Post by JHHolliday Mon Apr 10, 2023 12:57 pm

popchevy wrote:Hospital just called, results of my blood test show a lead level of 32.7 . They are going to refer me to a specialist. Our indoor season has almost ended, but for now I am done. Not sure what to tell the doctor, they asked me why I wanted tested and told them I race RC cars and was soldering a lot.

Sorry to hear your levels are high and that you felt the need to not reveal your sport
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Post by mikemyers Mon Apr 10, 2023 1:21 pm

32.7 - Sorry to read that.  That sounds high.  Will you get tested monthly for a while, until it comes down?

I just received a mail from "Florida Department of Health-Miami Dade County all about lead.
They already called me, and I told them about target shooting, and reloading - but I haven't done either in a while now.
This letter included a lot of reading materials.  I can scan and send you by PM if you wish.
(or, I can post here.....)

I would think you should tell the doctor everything, so they can help you the best.
But I don't know what the implications of doing so are.
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Post by popchevy Mon Apr 10, 2023 3:47 pm

I have never been tested for lead that I know of, and didn't think of it till I read this thread. I have been trying to figure out why my scores have been droping since shooting indoors, but realized I am having the shakes under time and rapid fire that seemed to have come from nowhere. essential temors ? I see my PCP in the next few days and will discuss this with him. I don't want my local range to get shut down , so am staying tight lipped about this. Also , am going to order a good respirator.
 Mike , you might want to post some of that info here ?              Thanks, Guys

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Post by Foundryratjim Mon Apr 10, 2023 4:56 pm

You might want to let your range know . If they are worth a hoot they will check their ventilation system to see how well it's working.

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Post by SteveT Mon Apr 10, 2023 5:12 pm

popchevy wrote:... I don't want my local range to get shut down, so am staying tight lipped about this.

Depending on your state, a high lead test might get a call from the department of health or State OSHA. When this happened to a couple of local shooters they said they did stained glass as a hobby and had only recently started taking proper precautions and that was the end of it. The state is looking for unsafe working conditions or rental properties that aren't up to code, not someone doing a hobby in there basement.
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Post by mikemyers Mon Apr 10, 2023 6:06 pm

popchevy wrote:.........Mike , you might want to post some of that info here?
Sure.
They sent me a personal letter, that I won't copy here.
They sent me a one-page "brochure" of how to prevent lead issues, which is important for us, and which I will post.
They sent me another one-page "brochure" on the dangers of lead, and how to prevent it.
They also sent me yet another brochure on how to avoid lead in our food, and other home sources.

I can post the others if requested.  This is what I thought was most important:

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