Lead in indoor shooting and firing ranges

Indoor shooting range with safety glasses, ear protection and gun

Learn about lead, protect your health! 

You can come into contact with lead in indoor shooting ranges when proper ventilation and cleaning controls are not used, from the “gunsmoke” that enters the air, and from not properly washing your hands. If you have lead dust on your hands, you could ingest lead when eating or drinking.


Who is at risk?

  • People who use indoor shooting ranges.
  • People who cast bullets.
  • People who reload their own ammunition.

Indoor shooting and firing ranges are common places where adults come into contact with lead. Shooters and employees at ranges are at the highest risk of coming into contact with harmful lead levels and may be more likely to get lead poisoning.


How does lead get into the body?

Lead gets into the body by either breathing in lead particles or swallowing lead dust. Lead dust at an indoor shooting range can be found on your hands and face or left behind on the food that you eat.


What can lead do to my family?

Your family can get lead poisoning if you have come into contact with lead dust or particles. Lead dust can get in your car or on your clothes, furniture, floors, and carpets. Even if you cannot see lead dust, it can still harm your health. Lead harms the brain, nerves, and kidneys, and it can damage hearing and speech. Children under 6 years are at a higher risk of learning and attention disabilities due to lead poisoning. 

Most children with lead poisoning do not look or act sick. The only way to know if your child is lead poisoned is to get a blood test from your doctor.


Can lead harm my health too?

Yes. Lead poisoning symptoms in adults include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss, anemia, fatigue or hyperactivity, headaches, stomach pain, and kidney problems. Reproductive problems, such as a reduced sperm count in men and eclampsia and preeclampsia in pregnant people, may develop. Adults who are lead-poisoned may feel tired, irritable, or get aches and pains. Low levels of lead in adults can:

  • Increase blood pressure.
  • Damage your brain.
  • Damage your kidneys.
  • Harm a baby before it is born.
  • Increase chances of having a miscarriage. 

If you think you have been exposed to lead, ask your doctor to test your blood for lead, even if you have no symptoms.


What can I do to protect myself and my family from lead?
  • Use jacket ammunition, preferably with non-lead primers.
  • Check to make sure the shooting range has good ventilation to reduce airborne lead levels. 
    • Ask your rangemaster about the ventilation if you have questions.
  • Wash your hands and face with soap and water before leaving the range or before eating or drinking.
  • Change into clean clothes and shoes at the shooting range before you get into your car or go home.
    • Put dirty clothes and shoes into a plastic bag.
    • Wash them separately from all other clothes.
    • Rerun the empty washing machine to rinse out any lead.
  • Take a shower and wash your hair as soon as you get home.
  • Never load bullets in an unventilated area, inside the home, or around children. 
    • Bullet loading and casting are also common sources of lead dust that can be breathed in or swallowed.
  • Limit the length of time that you are at a shooting range. 

Consult your rangemaster for more information.


If you are exposed to lead
  • Work with your health care provider.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, speak with your health care provider.


For information about lead and your health, contact ToxCall at 303-692-2606 or cdphe_toxcall@state.co.us.  

To request this web page information in a fact sheet, email cdphe_leadreports@state.co.us.