“The all-American pastime of squeezing off a few rounds at the range is riskier than many realize,” thetrace.org warns, unsurprisingly. “A new analysis of 40 years of research demonstrates that gun range customers and staffers are at high risk of exposure to dangerous amounts of lead, from inhaling smoke and tiny bits of bullets that float through the air after crashing into targets.”
The elevated levels are present after just a day or two of shooting and can linger for months. In one of the studies reviewed, the mean lead level in a class of police cadets increased more than sixfold from 6 micrograms per deciliter of blood on the first day of training to more than 15 micrograms per deciliter after five days of training.
Even 69 days after the training, the cadets’ blood level remained at an average of 9 micrograms per deciliter. An estimated one million American police officers train with guns at indoor ranges, according to the study.
“Nearly all [blood lead level] measurements compiled in this study exceed” the CDC’s maximum safe level, the study’s authors wrote.
The study goes on to say that lead exposure varies according to the efficacy of the range’s ventilation system. So there is that. In any case, how worried are you about lead exposure from shooting? What steps do you take — if any — to minimize the risk?