NIOSH Finds Health Hazard from Lead Exposure at Firing Range
During a recent health hazard evaluation (HHE), NIOSH staff found that a health hazard from lead exposure was affecting employees at a firing range and gun store in California. The HHE was requested by employees who had been diagnosed with lead poisoning and medically removed from the workplace by an occupational physician.
When NIOSH investigators visited the facility, they interviewed employees regarding their medical and work history, reviewed medical records, sampled air and surfaces for lead, and evaluated the facility’s ventilation system. According to the agency’s HHE report, NIOSH staff found lead in the air and on all surfaces tested, including employees’ skin. All employees had elevated blood lead levels, and the deficient ventilation system and openings between the firing range and the showroom area allowed lead-contaminated dust to circulate throughout the building.
NIOSH’s report lists several recommendations to the employer to improve workers’ health and safety at the facility, including:
- remove employees from lead exposure until the hazard is abated and blood lead levels decrease
- switch to lead-free ammunition
- hire a ventilation engineer to modify or redesign the ventilation systems
- consult a certified industrial hygienist to repeat air and surface wipe sampling after implementing the agency’s recommended changes