Lead exposure from shooting range operations isn’t just a hypothetical concern. Studies have repeatedly found elevated blood lead levels in recreational shooters who regularly visit shooting ranges. Based on this 2014 work from the CDC, it seems likely that at least 400 people land at a doctor’s office yearly with elevated blood lead levels owing to the time they spend at indoor shooting ranges. These aren’t just range workers—who clearly are at the highest risk for exposure. It’s also law enforcement, military, and private security keeping up with their skills—and even recreational shooters.
The number one mitigation—for shooters and workers alike—is taking care when handling bullets and spent casings and making a point of thoroughly washing hands and face immediately after shooting. The best the range can do is provide them with good facilities and plenty of soap.
But, at the end of the day, although the individual is the one harmed, the range may be held liable. As an indoor range operator, the best lead mitigation strategy is capture/containment: shooting range lead cleanup is orders of magnitude easier (which is to say, cheaper, faster, safer, and less disruptive to your operation) if you know precisely where that lead is. Ideally, that location is in buckets under your bullet traps or captured on particulate filters in your Exhaust Air Filtration System—not scattered through sand traps and granulated rubber or as a light dust coating every surface in your facility.
A Dedicated Fresh Air Supply, HVAC Conditioning, and Exhaust Air Filtration are Essential for proper Air-Quality, Comfort, and Shooting Range Lead Cleanup.
Air Handling and HVAC are key elements of shooting range lead cleanup. Firing bullets creates lead dust on hands, clothes, and surfaces (countertops, door handles, etc.). It can then be inhaled, ingested with food and drink, and so on. The proper Air Handling solution can substantially mitigate dust and particulates, significantly reducing potential exposure. An improperly designed air handling system can amplify exposure or create unexpected risks where there would otherwise be little or none.
OSHA specifically recommends “a separate … ventilation system (not connected to the general HVAC system) with supplied and exhausted airflow designed to move lead emissions downrange from the source (firearm) toward the filtered exhaust area at/or behind the bullet trap.… Use HEPA filters in the ventilation exhaust system to prevent lead from entering the outside environment.”
The MILO Live Solution
MILO Live shooting range solutions are engineered to meet these specifications. MILO Live is the only bullet range design and fabrication company in the US with significant Air Handling and HVAC engineering experience. We have over 35 years in the industry, with over 5000 custom Air Handling and HVAC applications installed and over 350 shooting-range specific projects. These Air Handling and HVAC systems meet OSHA, NIOSH, and EPA regulations for safety. They create a laminar airflow down the length of the range, drawing lead dust and particulates away from occupied portions of the building and toward the bullet traps. The unique helical design of the bullet traps (including those integrated into Ready Range™ modular turn-key range solutions) integrates directly with the range’s air-purification system. They require no pumps, media, or filters and have no moving parts. Instead of dumping spent rounds into trays that must be emptied (resulting in further disbursement of lead particulate), MILO Live True Bullet Traps capture all lead in sealable plastic containers that can be removed and replaced in under a minute by anyone (not just a trained technician).
The system is fully sealed, and the trap is kept under negative pressure at all times—even during maintenance. The system draws off lead dust and particulates, pulling them into the HEPA vent filtration system. This fully integrated solution minimizes lead exposure at your indoor range while maximizing lead capture, making for the easiest (and most complete) possible shooting range lead cleanup solution.