New Report on Gun Range Lead Exposure Doesn’t Use New Data

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) is always hard at work defending Second Amendment rights and calling out the biased media reporting and unscientific “studies” that get tossed around. Earlier this week, a “new” study was published that claimed that people who go to gun ranges are exposed to huge amounts of lead, and may be contaminating their children. However, Larry Keane, President of the NSSF, takes a look at this study and offers some insight into the truth:

NSSF LogoA new report making some headlines over the last few days recommends banning lead ammunition in response to blood lead levels in those who shoot at indoor and outdoor ranges.

This report, published in the journal, Environmental Health, doesn’t add anything new in terms of science, rather it is a literature review of existing studies. While literature reviews certainly hold value when done correctly, the news reports about the report seldom note that no new information is being presented here.

What is being presented is an overview of the results from 36 studies. Based on the results of these studies, the authors argue that blood lead levels of shooters, both occupational and recreational, are too high and that more should be done to minimize lead exposure. The authors also declare, without providing evidence, that the U.S. government thresholds for blood lead levels are too high and should be lowered. That’s simply an opinion unsupported by scientific evidence.

However, looking at these “36 articles,” it becomes clear that nearly all (83%) of the studies analyzed are either studies of shooters in other countries, or studies that are more than 10 years old. Only 6 are U.S.-based studies conducted within the past decade.

It’s hard to believe that the stringent regulations set by U.S. agencies for ranges are the same as those found in the other countries in the study including Mexico, Taiwan, Brazil and South Africa. Also, it doesn’t take much to assume that the U.S. regulations that were in place during some of these studies have changed over time—the “best practices” of ranges in 1975 are not the same as the ones in effect today. Even seatbelts weren’t required to be worn in 1975. Times have changed and so have the ventilation systems, blood lead level monitoring for employees, and numerous other practices of shooting ranges, their employees, and their visitors.

full auto at Defender Outdoors Shooting Center

Ventilation systems at ranges like Defender Outdoors Shooting Center are so advanced you can even shoot full auto safely indoors.


Employees responsible for test firing firearms at factories every day regularly have their blood lead levels monitored. Our members report there are no problems with the monitoring results. Even this literature review acknowledges that of the studies conducted in the U.S. in the past ten years, no results show occupational exposure above the regulatory thresholds. Yet, the authors express unfounded and unwarranted concern that recreational target shooters, including “young children,” are at risk when their exposures are significantly lower than that of occupational shooters. What the results actually show is that when best practices are followed, exposure can be safely managed.

Before the media takes off running with this literature review, we urge reporters to read the full report. They will see that this is clearly a solution in search of a problem.

Our own Defender Outdoors Shooting Center uses state-of-the-art ventilation systems that push gun smoke away from the shooter and pull it toward the backstop. Also, all range bays have lead-removing pads and wash sinks for your health and safety. Need more info? Check out DOShooting.com!

14 Comments On This Article

  1. The casual dismissal of the cited thresholds of lead exposure that is considered harmful, is disingenuous. Figures cited by medical/health organizations almost always have studies to back them up. Just because you did not research them, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. If you know for sure these figures are based on faulty or missing studies, you need to prove it. It is incumbent on you to provide an accurate article that has the best interests of your clients in mind, even if it means changes to the industry. Your credibility is at stake.

  2. Just another attempt by liberals to push old, faulty and misleading “evidence” to curtail our 2nd amendment rights, this time it is the trend of using “health” issues,and you know how concerned liberals are about the health and well being of those of us that support and defend the 2nd amendment. All in a long list of “concerns”, just like they use the “environmental” concerns to get lead banned on federal land. Nothing to see here, just more liberal deception.

  3. This article is not that far off. I was employed at the indoor shooting range operated by the Holland Tunnel Vigilante John Cramsey, as a result of his willful negligence in correcting ventilation issues, OSHA investigated complaints. OSHA fornd that lead contamination levels were Four times higher than the maximum allowable levls. OSHA ordered blood level testing on all employees. During my two years of employment my blood lead level was 72.6. Medical standards state any level 20 and above is serious, at 60 and above life threatening. To give you all an idea, the Flint Michigan residents reported elevated levels between 20 and 30.

    Lead exposure effects many parts of the body, compounds preexisting conditions and can cause life long disabilities or death. Cramsey was fined by OSHA $147,000.00 for his knowingly, willfull, and reckless negligence. Please do some research on lead poisoninv before you claim these articles anti-gun, or bogus stories.

    • Charles: You did the research for everyone. “..as a result of his willful negligence in correcting ventilation issues…”

      • Just wanted to make life easier for everyone. As I mention at the beginning of my post, not all ranges suffer from the issues like those at higer ground tactical or the mismanagement of john cramsey. However the lead issue is real, and a serious issue that needs to addressed. Many older ranges do not have the budget to upgrade to more modern ventilation and back stop systems to secure and scrub the range environment. It would be great if there was a resource for range. Owners to have access to loans or grants to make the upgrades necessary ensure a safe and healthy environment.

  4. Yes Charles Olds. Yes, your blood levels were dangerously high. But guess what? He was fined for violating the regulations set in place. The system works. We don’t need more regulations. Or more restrictive ones. We need people to follow the ones we already have.

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