As with any indoor shooting range, the one in your home exposes you to lead, which can pose some problems.
The metal, which is found in bullets and primers, can harm your brain, gut, and reproductive organs in the long run. So how can you clean up the lead without the adverse effects?
Here’s how to clean up lead in a home indoor shooting range:
- Wear personal protective equipment.
- Turn on the ventilation system.
- Avoid inappropriate cleaning methods.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Do wet cleaning in the absence of a HEPA vacuum.
- Do post-cleaning activities to reduce contamination.
- Monitor lead levels every six months.
- Opt for range practices that minimize lead contamination.
You may need to keep reading if you don’t want to get contaminated with the lead, so let’s get started.
1. Wear Personal Protective Equipment
When you fire a gun, it ends up vaporizing the lead from the bullet and primer. If you’re not careful, you can easily breathe it in or swallow it.
You can even end up ingesting lead if you eat or drink in your home range. That said, you must put on full battle gear before you start cleaning.
Here is the equipment you need to wear when cleaning, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):
- Tight-fitting respirator with P100 filters, as lead easily passes through paper masks.
- Face shield
- Vented goggles
- Full-body work clothing, such as a coverall or disposable suit.
- Head and foot covers
2. Turn on the Ventilation System
Since lead dust can become airborne during cleaning, you need to turn your system on before starting. Ideally, it should have a push-pull system as this will help move the lead toward the exhaust.
For best results, your vent should have the following characteristics as well:
- High-efficiency particulate (HEPA) filter
- It should be separated from the rest of the home.
- Not feeding air into the other rooms inside your house.
Additionally, you should inspect and maintain your vent at least every three months. You should also replace the filters every quarter.
3. Avoid Inappropriate Cleaning Methods
You can’t just clean your indoor range like you would any part of your house. For one, you mustn’t dry sweep, brush, or shovel the area. Nor should you use compressed air to clean the room.
Doing any of these will stir up the settled lead in the range. This, of course, places you at a higher risk of breathing or ingesting the dust.
4. Use a Vacuum Cleaner with a HEPA Filter
You should clean your indoor range regularly, especially if you use it often.
The gold standard for doing so is to use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. This machine works by forcing air into a mesh that traps lead dust and other particulates.
You can use your vacuum to clean up these areas every week:
- Floor to ceiling, except for the bullet trap
- Top of the target track
- Stall glass/area
- Booth glass
Here are the other areas you should vacuum every month:
- The rear of range, including behind the bullet trap
- Hallway/area outside of weekly cleaning area
- Fan shroud in the cleaning area
5. Do Wet Cleaning in the Absence of a HEPA Vacuum
If you don’t have a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you can still clean your range safely through the wet cleaning method. When you use a wet cleaning agent, you can remove the lead dust safely without spreading it around and causing more contamination throughout your home. We suggest using one of our D-Lead solutions, as well as swiffers or rags that can be immediately disposed of using proper hazardous material methods.
Most range owners go for a high-phosphate cleaning substance as they are more effective.
Even without a HEPA vacuum, you can reduce lead hazards by wet cleaning the areas mentioned above.
6. Do Post-Cleaning Activities to Reduce Contamination
Now that you’ve cleaned the lead in your range, you should be careful NOT to bring these particles home. Before you leave the range, you might want to change your clothes so you can avoid accidentally putting lead particles everywhere.
For best results, you should shower as well.
If this isn’t possible, you should at least wash your face and hands. You should also use a decontamination wipe, as it can remove at least 98% of the lead on your body.
Another option is using specialized hand wipes, which can indicate whether or not you’ve washed the lead off effectively. For best results, hygienist Alice Weber recommended using two wipes each for the face and hands.
Proper disposal is key to preventing contamination as well. Make sure to dispose of your disposable coveralls properly, as you would the trash in the range. If they’re reusable, place them in a secure plastic bag.
Make sure to wash them separately from the rest of your garments.
7. Monitor Lead Levels Every Six Months
Even if you clean your range regularly, you have to monitor its lead levels at least every six months.
The easiest way to do this is to buy a lead test kit.
Another method is to check the air concentration of lead in your range, which you can do with an air sampling pump and membrane filter. The range is deemed safe if the levels read below AL of 30 µg/m3 or PEL of 50 µg/m3.
If you use your range frequently, you’ll want to undergo blood lead level monitoring regularly. This will help you prevent any lead-related health complications.
Keep in mind: A level of AL of 30 µg/m3 is enough to cause blood pressure problems and reproductive system issues.
8. Opt for Range Practices That Minimize Lead Contamination
Cleaning lead from a home range can be taxing, if not expensive. But if you want to reduce the hazard further, then you should follow these helpful practices:
- Use copper/nylon-clad bullets or non-lead primers made from mannitol hexanitrate.
- Use jacketed bullets in case you need to use a conventional primer.
- Avoid utilizing angled back straps with your sand traps.
- Cast or reload bullets in a well-ventilated area.
- Avoid eating or drinking in your indoor range.
- If you need to bring a water bottle in the range (though it’s best you don’t), make sure it’s tightly closed.
- Don’t install carpets, as it will be hard to remove the lead that will accumulate here.
Contact Action Target Today
Lead is harmful to health. By following these cleaning techniques, you can keep yourself, and your family, safe from contamination. With over 30 years of experience, Action Target can help you build the perfect range for your unique needs. Whether you’re building a commercial range that caters to casual or tactical training or a law enforcement range to better prepare your officers, our experts can help with the challenges of building a range. Talk to one of our representatives in your neck of the woods here.
- OSHA: Protecting Workers from Lead Hazards At Indoor Firing Ranges
- Texas Department of Health: Firing Ranges – the Airborne Lead Dust Hazard
- Illinois Department of Public Health: How do I Prevent Lead Exposure?
- E-Waste Disposal: Shooting Range
- Grainger: Lead Identification, Testing, and Protection
- US Army: Avoid Bringing Lead Dust Home