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Old March 7, 2013, 10:59 PM   #1
justplainpossum
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What is up with the Hazmat suit?

I went to the indoor range last week. After a couple of minutes we were told to stop and step away from the guns, which we did. A young man came out in what looked similar to a Hazmat suit, and walked down the range (I never found out what was going on). He was walking in an area where we didn't go, though it was all the same air space.

Would all the protective clothing and breathing covers have to do with lead exposure? Is it dangerous to breathe the air in an indoor range? What can lead do to a person? It was a little unnerving to see him come out like that!
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Old March 7, 2013, 11:29 PM   #2
Daekar
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That is very weird. I have never heard of anything like that.
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Old March 7, 2013, 11:31 PM   #3
justplainpossum
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Uh oh. Don't like the sound of that now.
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Old March 7, 2013, 11:57 PM   #4
5.56RifleGuy
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Its due to all the lead. If you shoot lots of rounds everyday or work with the stuff all the time, you can have a build up of lead in your system. Its not nearly as harmful for the casual shooter.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:00 AM   #5
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Yep, we used to wear bunny suits down the line when doing cleanup. OSHA regs on where and how they have to be worn. Because of the timing, I'd say they might have had a filter plug up in the forced air system blowing lead dust down range.
Where you stand is fairly safe, as you might remember some vents behind you blowing over you - the whole ventilation system is designed to move "bad" dust downrange into filters prior to evacuating the air back to the outside. Even on the cheap range I worked it, that system worked pretty well.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:00 AM   #6
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I bet he was wearing a pair of Tyvek coveralls to avoid getting lead dust on his clothing. The concern may not have been for airborne particles, but for dust he might have stirred up while working.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:01 AM   #7
war_elephant
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very well could be an employee of the EPA or OSHA with a small testing dosimeter or other gear, checks the levels of lead in the air to verify the ventilation system is working properly. Not a big deal for me or you to walk down range once in a while but imagine doing it every day several times a day. Sort of like in the Marines when they decided to take the old insect repellant away from us, I boxed it all up and gave it to a guy in a haz mat suit. Same thing, not big deal for me to handle once, but for the guy that takes them in by the thousands..... same idea I am guessing. IMHO.
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Old March 8, 2013, 12:50 AM   #8
justplainpossum
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Well, happily I do most of my shooting on my ranch, in the nice clean air!! It's good to know, though, that it wasn't anything too scary. Thanks, guys.
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Old March 8, 2013, 02:15 AM   #9
mrbatchelor
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What is up with the Hazmat suit?

Yeah, he's got an "occupational hazard exposure" that's regulated by law. As a customer you would be forbidden entry if it was really dangerous.

Now, if you're casting your own at home, then you can get into trouble. Use proper ventilation.
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Old March 8, 2013, 04:35 PM   #10
ltc444
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If you want to know more about this subject the OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1025http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=10030

Will tell you all about the issue.
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Old March 9, 2013, 03:08 AM   #11
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Okay, thank you!
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Old March 9, 2013, 07:45 AM   #12
Mike Irwin
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"Would all the protective clothing and breathing covers have to do with lead exposure?"

Yes.

In reality, elemental lead from the bullets isn't that much of a problem. It's the organic lead (lead styphenate) from the primers that is the real problem. Unlike elemental lead, lead styphenate is readily absorbed into the body.
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Old March 9, 2013, 12:54 PM   #13
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Also remember that the people wearing the protective clothing/respirators are doing so because of repeated exposures.

Why does the x-ray tech leave the room or get behind shielding? Not because the x-ray you are getting is hazardous, but because getting exposure all day, every day is hazardous.

Any exposure as part of your job means it is eccupational exposure, and he rules kick in. Levels of ppe (personal protective equipement) are specified, and by law, the employer must provide it to the workers.

What indoor range could withstand a $10,000 fine (and more /per day/per instance, etc..) because they got caught "deliberately exposing employees" to a hazardous material?

I suppose it would be a bit disturbing to some folks. I wouldn't bat an eye, other than to have my professional curiosity aroused, at to what the hazard was,and what levels, what ppe was being used, and how, and what their decontamination and waste handling procedures were, and if they were being followed...

Because that's part of what I have been doing for the last 30 years, working, handling, & storage of hazardous materials.
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Old March 9, 2013, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
In reality, elemental lead from the bullets isn't that much of a problem. It's the organic lead (lead styphenate) from the primers that is the real problem. Unlike elemental lead, lead styphenate is readily absorbed into the body.
Although it's not very soluble in organic solvents, and I doubt it has a particularly high dermal absorption factor, lead styphenate is definitely toxic and I'm sure it can enter the body via inhalation or ingestion. But the average shooter never really comes in contact with lead styphenate, which is contained in the primer and relatively inaccessible.

You're correct that the problem isn't so much with lead from bullets, but the problem is in fact with elemental lead, which is one of the combustion products of lead styphenate. The combustion products of the priming compound become part of the ejecta leaving the barrel when a round is fired, and the lead particles are small enough to remain suspended in the air where they can be inhaled. Nearly 100% of inhaled particulate elemental lead enters the bloodstream (vs. around 40% if ingested [there are lots of other values in the literature for ingestion, but I think 40% is somewhat accepted] and near zero for dermal exposure). Wearing a half-face respirator with P100 pancake filters can reduce exposure in indoor ranges with poor ventilation, which is to say just about all of them.
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Old March 10, 2013, 10:04 PM   #15
bbqbob51
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Maybe it was the Bubble Boy just visiting the range.
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Old March 11, 2013, 12:11 AM   #16
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Also, in a properly designed range, the air should be pulled downrange away from the shooter. AKA where the guy was. Downrange is filthy and I would not want to be exposed to it. In fact, if you shoot a lot you should look at your exposure. My biggest area of concern is handling spent brass when doing reloading prep, I try to keep that out of the house.
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Old March 11, 2013, 12:45 AM   #17
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Lead dust from the bullets is an inhalation problem. Depending on the type of catcher used at the range. Sand presents probably the greatest problem. As bullets strike the sand it abrades the bullets and spall which is all ready present and literally grinds grinds it into smaller fines.

The bullets also kick up lead dust and it will be suspended for a period of time.

Depleted uranium is considerably heavier than lead. While working at a defense contractor We found significant levels of airborne DU up to 8 hours after after all production had ceased.

In another operation we added lead powder to an insulating material. The powder would coat the entire mix room.

Lead dust is a real inhalation problem.
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