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Let's Clear The Air

Firearms Produce Lead Dust as well as a Cocktail of Potentially Harmful Gasses and Particulates 

When a firearm is discharged the hammer strikes a small charge.  This charge ignites  gun powder packed behind the bullet.  When the gun powder burns, it produces gas that rapidly expands with the burning of more gun powder.  When a firearm is discharged grains of burned gun powder are sent out the muzzle at high velocity.  Different charges and propellants have different chemical make ups. Therefor the chemicals released into the air are specific to the product being fired.  Below is a list of chemicals that were detected in the air in one study performed by the US Military.

What are you breathing?
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Hydrogen Cyanide
  • Benzene
  • Acrylonitrile
  • Toluene
  • Cyanobenzene
  • Crotonitrile
  • Furan
  • Dimethylnitrosamine
  • Methacrylonitrile
  • Quinoline
  • Nitrobenzene
  • 2-Furfural
  • Carbon Disulfide
  • Hexane
  • Indane


Read the full text of the study

Lead Dust
When a firearm is discharged airborne particulate lead is generated and released into the environment.  LEAD EXPOSURE HAS HEALTH RISKS!
The quantity of lead in someone’s blood is typically measured in terms of micrograms per deciliter. Most people accumulate trace amounts through environmental exposure. The average adult blood lead level for all Americans is 1.2 micrograms per deciliter. The CDC considers anything above 5 micrograms per deciliter “elevated.”
 When a round is discharged, its primer releases a small amount of the metal as it burns. The smoke produced can introduce lead into the bloodstream if inhaled. Some ammunition uses lead projectiles.  If the projectile breaks up when impacting the trap, the metal is aerosolized. Even if lead particles — either from the primer or the bullet — are not inhaled, they can settle on skin or clothing.
What does OSHA say about the effects of Lead poisoning?

Epidemiological and experimental studies indicate that chronic exposure resulting in blood lead levels (BLL) as low as 10 µg/dL in adults are associated with impaired kidney function, high blood pressure, nervous system and neurobehavioral effects, cognitive dysfunction later in life, and subtle cognitive effects attributed to prenatal exposure.  Pregnant women need to be especially concerned with reducing BLL since this can have serious impact on the developing fetus.

Chronic exposures to lead can cause subclinical effects on cognitive functions as well as adverse effects on sperm/semen quality and delayed conception.  BLLs between 20 to 40 µg/dL are associated with effects such as cognitive aging as well as deficits in visuomotor dexterity, lower reaction times and attention deficit.  At BBLs above 40 µg/dL, people can begin to experience symptoms such as headache, fatigue, sleep disturbance, joint pain, myalgia, anorexia, and constipation.

While uncommon, people with high exposure to lead resulting in BLL over 60 µg/dL. experience health effects that can range from acute effects such as convulsions, coma, and in some cases, death, to more chronic conditions such as anemia, peripheral nephropathy, interstitial kidney fibrosis, and severe abdominal cramping.

When an indoor firing range ventilation system is properly designed, balanced, and maintained, the exposure to these harmful and hazardous materials can be controlled. Carey's designs all our systems to meet or exceed OSHA's allowable levels for lead exposure. Furthermore, Carey's guarantees our systems will meet or exceed not only the standards set by OSHA, but also those set by NIOSH and the EPA.
The standards followed and required are summarized below:NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) has set the standard for range design. This suggested design criteria has been found to consistently produce conditions that keep exposure in the respiratory zone below the allowable limits for lead exposure. The following is a summary of the EPA, NIOSH and OSHA standards as they apply to small arms range ventilation:EPA:TITLE 40--PROTECTION OF ENVIRONMENT CHAPTER I--ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PART 50--NATIONAL PRIMARY AND SECONDARY AMBIENT AIR QUALITY STANDARDS--Table of Contents Sec. 50.12 National primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for lead. National primary and secondary ambient air quality standards for lead and its compounds, measured as elemental lead by a reference method based on appendix G to this part, or by an equivalent method, are: 1.5 micrograms per cubic meter, maximum arithmetic mean averaged over a calendar quarter. (Secs. 109, 301(a) Clean Air Act as amended (42 U.S.C. 7409, 7601(a))) On November 12th, 2008, the EPA issued a final rule that revised the NAAQS for lead and associated ambient air lead monitoring requirements strengthening the requirement to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter as total suspended particles measured as a three-month rolling average. (73 FR 66964, codified at 40 CFR part 58)NIOSH and OSHA:Established by NIOSH, the performance intent for firing range ventilation systems shall meet all the requirements outlined as recommendations and design considerations in HEW publication no. (NIOSH) 76-130, dated December, 1975, entitled "Lead Exposure Design Considerations for Indoor Firing Ranges". This design standard prefers an air flow velocity of 75 feet per minute average on the empty range. This design has consistently provided for the compliance within the established federal standards for airborne inorganic lead concentration limits. When properly executed, lead concentrations are consistently maintained below the action level of 30 micrograms per cubic meter (30ug/m3) in an area where the limit shall not exceed 50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter (50ug/m3) of air over a time weighted average of eight hours as measured at the respiration zone of the shooters and the range officer when firing from the firing booths per OSHA 29 CFR. 1910.1025 and 1926.62.
(Customer Testimonial)

"(The air ) inside the store at RKA is "delightful."  The air circulating from the rear of the range to (the) front (bullet trap) of the range, is 100% outside, clean, fresh "country air."  RKA has the finest air handling system in the industry. Our juniors (adolescent shooters) were part of a study being carried out by a  U. S. Air Force, Lt.Colonel Wing Commander who is a pediatric physician and was on temporary duty at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, Department of Toxicology, working on her Master's degree in toxicology.  She made arrangements to do a blood draws of our juniors at practice one scheduled evening."


"The results were a real "breath of fresh air."  All the effort Scott Peters put into building what was to become, an NSSF 5-Star rated Range really paid off ... "BIG time."  Our juniors who had done all their shooting at RKA had lead levels lower than anything she had ever seen in her medical career.  Those who had been shooting at a previous location(s), had lead levels that had started to drop and continue to do so while shooting at RKA."

​-Jim Hagearty-NRA Training Counselor-

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