At a shooting range, lead dust is created as guns are fired and when lead projectiles fragment against backstops, walls, floors or baffles. Lead dust settles on floors, shooting benches and other surfaces.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that although lead can enter the body by absorption through the skin or ingestion, absorption is highest when it is breathed in.
According to the Mayo Clinic, lead poisoning symptoms include fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, memory loss, mood disorders, reduced sperm count and miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women.
Since even low levels of lead exposure can be hazardous over time, it is important to wear a properly fitted lead dust respirator at the shooting range to help protect you from lead poisoning.
Don the Respirator
1. Attach the filter cartridges to the mask, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This typically involves seating each filter in the attach point and turning it a quarter turn to the stop.
2. Place your chin into the bottom cup of the mask and rotate the top part of the mask up to cover your nose.
3. Place the head strap on your head, just above your ears. Tighten the strap until the mask is snug against your face.
4. Adjust the neck strap behind your neck to help keep the lower half of the mask secure.
Check the Seal
5. Perform a positive pressure seal test by covering the outlet valve with the palm of your hand and exhaling. Air should not escape around the edges of the mask.
6. Perform a negative pressure seal test by covering the filter cartridge inlets with the palms of your hands and inhaling. Hold your breath for a few seconds. The face mask should collapse slightly against your face without leaking.
7. If the mask leaks during either seal test, reposition the mask on your face and tighten the straps. Repeat the tests. If you can’t achieve a seal, you may need a different size face mask.