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Old December 14, 2012, 08:42 AM   #1
sfmedic
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Got a left field indoor range question

Didnt know where to post this - I think im safe here

Does anyone got a link or know where I can lay my hands on environmental regs for indoor ranges - specifically ventilation standards?


more specifically - required air exchanges required per minute?


thanks
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Old December 14, 2012, 09:25 AM   #2
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In 2008, EPA established a National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for airborne lead of 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m^3), to become effective in, I believe, 2016. That standard is directed at the lead-processing industry and so specifies that an operation must emit a reasonably large amount of lead to fall under the regulation. I don't think even a very large indoor range would come close to that limit. Under our regulatory system, the individual states are free to enact regulations that are more stringent than the national standards, but I'm not aware of any that have done so, which of course is not the same thing as saying that there are none.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no environmental regulations that apply specifically to ventilation of indoor shooting ranges. OSHA standards, which apply only to employees, and then only to companies over a certain number of employees (I forget exactly, but it's something like 10 employees), specify that no employee shall be exposed to airborne lead concentrations in excess of 50 mcg/m^3, averaged over an 8-hour period, but doesn't specify how you need to ventilate to achieve that standard.

There are, however, many sources available on-line that talk about how to ventilate a range properly and I'm sure you can Google them up. The NRA has long recommended minimum velocity of air flow down range, i.e., away from the shooting line, of 1 foot per second and you can easily calculate the require minimum cfs necessary to achieve that for a particular range. That would truly be a minimum, however, because uniform laminar air flow across the shooting line is a near impossibility.

For what it's worth, I can honestly say that I've never shot in an indoor range that I thought was sufficiently ventilated, and that includes the near state-of-the-art ranges at the Smith & Wesson training facility in Springfield, Massachusetts. I've had issues with elevated blood lead levels over the years, and now wear a half-face respirator with P100 filters whenever I shoot indoors; my lead levels are now back within the "normal" range. I consider the respirator to be every bit as important a part of my personal protective equipment as my eye and ear protection.
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Last edited by FlyFish; December 14, 2012 at 09:54 AM.
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Old December 14, 2012, 09:44 AM   #3
drail
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Same here. Years ago when I was an NRA instructor we ran our classes on an indoor range. It was very modern and in compliance with all of the EPA regs but I always dreaded spending any time in that building. The owner always griped about the cost of replacing all of the filters in the ventilation system and how often they had to be changed. You would get black stuff out of your nose for days after a weekend in there. We should have been wearing masks. I only shoot outdoors now. The lighting is usually better anyway.
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Old December 14, 2012, 09:47 AM   #4
southjk
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What about the gunpowder smoke? Any danger there? I would doubt the exposure isn't much to worry about as most people aren't there for very long per shooting session. But for those that are sensitive or have lung problems it could be an issue if the range is not well ventilated.
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Old December 14, 2012, 09:53 AM   #5
FlyFish
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Quote:
What about the gunpowder smoke? Any danger there?
My admittedly limited understanding is that the combustion products from smokeless powder itself are comparatively benign and you'd need an unreasonably excessive amount of exposure (or, as you say, have some pre-existing condition) to incur significant risk from that source. However, much of the lead exposure from indoor shooting is from airborne lead originating from the priming compound used in most ammunition, lead styphnate, and that is for the most part traveling with the smoke, so that represents a real concern.
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Old December 14, 2012, 02:31 PM   #6
sfmedic
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FlyFish

I think that might be part of the problem with finding the reg if it doesnt exist. If thats the case I gotta saw WOW.

I am in the same boat as you. It CANT be healthy shooting in an indoor range all the time. Ive done training indoors before when at the end of the day I felt physically Ill.

sometimes we use FLSC-L (flec linear shape charges - Lead) for breaching and if your an instructor going through that smoke breach after breach it is bad for you.

Elevated lead count is unfortunately common because of that. Did you go through chaleating therapy to get your counts down? I didnt think they went down on their own.

I guess Im going to overdo the ventilation to the point of breezy if I cant find a reg - fans are cheap
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Old December 14, 2012, 03:35 PM   #7
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Thankfully, my lead levels weren't high enough to need chelation therapy, which I understand is quite unpleasant. After one of the guys on my pistol team happened to have his lead tested and it came back very high (as I recall, about 60 mcg/dl) I decided to have mine tested at my next physical and it was elevated to about 31 mcg/dl. As you may know, the currently accepted maximum for adults is 10 mcg/dl, down from the older guideline of 20 mcg/dl.

My level was high enough (over 20 or 25, can't remember which) so that my doctor was required by law to report it to the state (at the time, it was Massachusetts) health department, who sent me a nice letter explaining my rights with regard to occupational exposure, which of course wasn't my particular problem. I started wearing the respirator while shooting, and became a bit more careful about washing my hands after shooting or reloading, but otherwise made no changes in my day-to-day activities. In a year my serum lead was down to the mid-20s, and two years after that I was down to 7.9 mcg/dl.

As the scientific literature, which I've done some reading in, and my own experience shows, lead will eventually leave the body if you remove the source of exposure, but it's a slow process. Much better not to get exposed in the first place.
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