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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Recreational Shooting Related Lead Exposure

Lead is used in the manufacture of bullets and can be found in both the projectile and the primer. Since the 1960s, firing ranges have been recognized as potential sources of lead exposure. During shooting, airborne lead fumes and particles are generated. Proper controls are required to limit inhalation of lead-containing dust and fumes, as well as, through the ingestion of lead particles from hand-to-mouth contact with contaminated surfaces. 

View the fact sheet below or this web page for more information on recreational shooting related lead exposure.


Contact Us

To speak with a Public Health Inspector on the Environmental Health Team about recreational shooting related lead exposure, please call:

  • 519-663-5317 ext. 2300

Is there a risk to the families of recreational shooters?

Recreational shooters and volunteer workers at firing ranges, and their families, can be exposed to hazardous amounts of airborne lead if proper controls are not in place. Relative to non-shooting family members, “take-home” contamination occurs when lead dust is transferred from a shooter’s skin, clothing, shoes, and other personal items to his/her vehicle and home. Lead in personal vehicles poses a potential exposure to other passengers, and has the potential to be tracked into the home where it can expose others, including children and pregnant women.

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What can shooters do to minimize risks to themselves and their family?

  • If anyone believes they have had significant exposure to lead they should ask their healthcare provider about having a blood lead test.
  • Wash up or shower (if available) immediately after shooting or performing housekeeping or maintenance activities.
  • Transport clothing and other personal items in a manner that prevents contamination of vehicles or the home environment and appropriately launder.

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What can shooting range staff / volunteers do to minimize risk?

  • Encourage the use of lead free ammunition.
  • Have ventilation systems for indoor firing ranges assessed by a knowledgeable person/consultant familiar with firing range design.
  • Have housekeeping and maintenance activities to remove lead from surfaces performed routinely by a trained person and in a manner that does not promote airborne lead dust.
  • Ensure that adequate personal protective equipment, including skin protection, eye protection, and NIOSH approved respirators, suitable for protection against lead dust are used by volunteers involved in maintenance and cleaning of lead-contaminated surfaces and areas.
  • Do not allow children, pregnant women or other ‘at risk’ individuals to perform housekeeping or maintenance activities.
  • Consider having a trained health and safety volunteer who will initiate and supervise education of both shooters and other volunteers/workers.
  • Transport clothing and other personal items in a manner that prevents contamination of vehicles or the home environment and appropriately launder.
  • Display posters to remind shooters and volunteers/workers to wash their hands, and not to eat, drink or smoke while shooting.

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Additional Information

For more information on lead exposures related to shooting ranges, view Lead Exposures Among Recreational Shooters (PDF 582KB).


Adapted with the permission of Public Health Ontario. © 2015 Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.

Date of creation: August 6, 2015
Last modified on: July 17, 2019

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1Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion (Public Health Ontario). (2014, October). Lead exposures among recreational shooters. Retrieved from