Aim at Lead Safety

Aim at Lead Safety is available in Portable Document Format (PDF, 151.30KB, 2pages)

  • Do you use indoor firing ranges?
  • Do you cast bullets or tumble casings?
  • Do you reload ammunition?
  • If so, you are probably exposed to lead.

What You Don't Feel May Hurt You

How shooters are exposed to lead

Most ammunition contains lead within the bullet and the primer. Lead is released into the air when the gun is fired and forms small particles that you can breathe. Lead particles are also formed as the lead bullet spirals through the barrel. These particles of lead can get into your body when you breathe them or swallow, such as when you eat, drink or smoke.

How lead can harm you

Absorption of lead into your body is hazardous to your health. Lead is stored in the blood, liver, kidney and bones. Frequent exposure to lead, particularly at high levels, can harm the nervous, digestive and reproductive systems, the brain, kidneys and can interfere with the body's ability to make blood. Symptoms of exposure to high lead levels may include loss of appetite, joint pain, sleep pattern changes, personality changes and sexual dysfunction. Lead dust that settles on clothes, shoes, skin, or hair can be carried home. Lead in the home is especially dangerous for children.

Questions You Should Ask the Range Management

  • Does the indoor range have a dedicated exhaust ventilation system?
  • How often is the range cleaned?
  • Do they use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA)vacuum system and wet cleaning methods?
  • Is lead-free ammunition available in the range store?
  • Are there posters in the range addressing lead hazards and protective methods?

Simple Steps Can Reduce Exposure to Lead

Reducing lead hazards while at the firing range

  • Use non-leaded ammunition and primer such as copper or polymer-jacketed bullets whenever possible.
  • Don't eat, drink or smoke inside the range or rooms adjacent to the range.
  • Wash your hands and face immediately after shooting, cleaning firearms, picking up spent casings/pellets, or reloading ammunition, and before eating, drinking or smoking.
  • Never use brooms to sweep up spent casings.
  • Sweeping stirs up dust. Pick up casings by hand.
  • Leave a pair of shoes, a hat and a set of washable coveralls at the range to be used only for shooting, or keep them in separate plastic bags. Wear the coveralls over your street clothes. Wash them frequently but separately from other clothes.
  • Have your blood tested for lead periodically to help evaluate your exposure.
  • Aim at Lead Safety Information Sheet provides information for coaches and range managers on controlling lead in indoor shooting ranges.
  • Aim at Lead Safety Poster is intended to be posted in ranges to provide information on lead safety measures in and around ranges.

To find an occupational health clinic in your area please go to our List of Occupational Health Clinics. For information on assistance that is available from the State Health Department go to our Industrial Hygiene page.

External Links

  • Indoor Firing Ranges - National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) Information about health hazards associated with indoor firing ranges.
  • National Association of Shooting Ranges provides information for range management on design, environmental management, maintenance, and safety.
  • Indoor Firing Ranges Industrial Hygiene Technical Guide provided by the US Navy Environmental Health Center, this reference guide is intended to provide general information regarding indoor firing ranges (small arms ranges) to assist in recognizing, evaluating and controlling safety and health hazards.