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Health risk associated with lead dust from firearms

| Jun 2, 2017 | Workers' Compensation |

Firearms safety is vital for all those who use guns for work or for fun. Many gun users take safety courses, training sessions and gun lessons to learn how to properly operate a firearm. You can practice safety as much as possible, but there is a silent issue out there that can cause health problems. That silent issue surrounds lead dust.

When a gun is fired, the lead core wrapped around the bullet can boil when the gunpowder ignites. Lead particles trail behind the bullet when the gun fires. This can lead to lead particles trailing behind the casing when it snaps out of the ejection port. If you are firing a gun in a poorly ventilated range, the lead can hang around and attach itself to the clothing of those present. It could also be inhaled.

The more a person shoots a gun, the higher the risk of being exposed to lead dust becomes. This makes it an occupational hazard for police officers, firearms instructors and anyone else who uses a gun on the job. This can also be a risk for family members of those who work in these industries. For example, an employee of an indoor gun range could bring home lead dust on their clothing, which could be inhaled by family members, leading to elevated lead levels.

The current standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for lead exposure have been criticized by experts as being too lenient. Right now, a worker can return to the job if they exhibit blood lead levels below 40 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood on two consecutive tests. If their blood lead level climbs to 60 or more they must stop working.

No amount of lead in the body is safe. A blood lead level of 5 can lead to kidney dysfunction or spontaneous abortions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can answer all of your questions about lead dust from firearms, especially if it causes you to miss work.

Source: nhpr.org, “Lead Dust From Firearms Can Pose A Silent Health Risk,” accessed June 02, 2017


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