Int Arch Occup Environ Health (1992) 64:219-221

International Archivesof

Ppaionalad C

Environmental Health © Springer-Verlag 1992

Lead exposure in indoor firing ranges Bengt-Giiran Svensson, Andrejs Schiitz, Anita Nilsson, and Staffan Skerfving Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital, S-221 85 Lund, Sweden Received February 18 / Accepted May 27, 1992

Summary Higher air lead levels (time-weighted average 660, range 112-2238 lg/m 3) were measured in firing ranges where powder charges were employed than in ranges where air guns were used (4 6, range 1 8-7 2 lg/ m3 ); levels in the latter were in turn higher than those in ranges used for archery ( 0 11, range 0 10-0 13 lg/m 3). Twenty-two marksmen who used powder charges had significantly increased blood lead levels during the indoor shooting season (before: median 106, range 32-176 gg/l; after: 138; range 69-288 gg/l; P = 0 0001), while 21 subjects who mainly used air guns displayed no significant increase (before: median 91, range 47-179 pg/l; after: 84 ; range 20-222 Lg/i) Thirteen archers had significantly lower levels than the pistol shooters before the season (P = 0 006), and showed a significant decrease during the season (before: median 61, range 27-92 pg/l; after: 56 ; range 31-87 pg/l; P = 0 04) At the end of the indoor season, there was a significant association between weekly pistol shooting time and blood lead levels. Key words: Lead

Firing range


Pistol shoot-


Introduction Shooting handguns in indoor firing ranges can cause considerable exposure to airborne lead that originates from the bullet and the primer, which often contains lead stibnate and lead peroxide (Novotny et al 1987 ; Dams et al. 1988) The exposure for shooting instructors working indoors can reach toxic levels (Fischbein et al 1979 ; Novotny et al 1987). Pistol shooting as a hobby is attracting a growing number of people in Sweden, and indoor firing ranges are used for these activities during the winter As groups with special sensitivity to lead exposure (youngsters, females) also take part in indoor shooting, the current exposure to lead in hobby shooting indoors is of special interest In recent studies on blood lead levels in Swedish children, we have noticed somewhat higher levels in children who practice shooting (Schiitz et al. 1984). Correspondenceto: B -G Svensson

In this study we have investigated lead exposure in indoor shooting with different kinds of ammunition. Material and methods Subjects Three groups were recruited for the study They all practiced their hobby indoors during wintertime Group I (4 females, 18 males) practiced shooting with pistols, using ammunition with powder charge 1-6 h per week Group II (4 females, 17 men) practised in another indoor range and, for most of the period studied, used pistols with air-propelled bullets On some occasions, when competitions were held during the indoor season, this group used bullets with powder charges in the same indoor range Groups I and II both used powder charges during summer, when they practiced outdoors Members of a third group, group III (2 females, 11 men), were archers and served as referents They practiced archery indoors in a gymnasium not used for gun firing. From each subject, information about age, occupation, leisure activities, and life-style were collected through a self-administered questionnaire (Table 1). Lead in blood (B-Pb) Venous blood was drawn from each subject at the beginning of the indoor season in September At the end of the season, in March-April of the following year, another blood sample was collected Evacuated, heparinized tubes (Venoject), which had been found to contain no detectable lead contamination, were used The samples were transferred to acid-washed polypropylene tubes with screw caps and stored frozen (-20°C) until analysis. At analysis, both samples from each subject were analysed in the same sample series Analysis was carried out by electrothermal atomization atomic absorption spectrophotometry (ETA AAS) after dilution (eight fold or more) and addition of ammonium nitrate as a chemical modifier The instrument was equipped with Zeeman background corrector (Varian Spectra AA-40, pyrolytically graphite coated tubes) All samples were prepared in triplicate, one of them with standard addition Each preparation (30 l) was injected twice. The detection limit was 6 pg/l (3 SD for chemical blanks) The precision, calculated as the coefficient of variation for the duplicate determinations, was 6 % in the range up to 100 g/l (mean 62 g/l; N = 62) and 4 % for samples with higher levels (mean 135 gg/l; n = 50) The accuracy was checked by inclusion of a whole blood reference sample (Seronorm Trace Elements, batch 904, Nycomed AS, Oslo) in the sample series Our results averaged 49 ± 6 0 gg/l, as compared to the assigned 51 ± 3 6 pg/l. Lead in air Breathing-zone airborne lead was collected on cellulose acetate membrane filters (Millipore, 37 mm, 0 8 gm) by use of personal samplers (3 /min) The filters were digested with concentrated nitric acid (0 5 ml, Aristar, BDH) in closed Teflon vessels (70°C, 15 h) and diluted to 10 ml The filters from powder gun and air gun ranges were analyzed by flame AAS (Perkin-

220 Table 1 Age and relevant life-style factors in three groups using indoor ranges Group I used charges propelled by powder during all practice Group II used air guns for most of the time and only occasionally powder charges A group of archers served as referents Means and ranges are indicated

Group I: powder (n = 22)

Group II: air gun (n = 21)

42 4 (29-66) 26 (1-6) 10 2 (2-44) 4 16 2

46 8 (24-66) 27 (1-6) 13 7 (1-43) 4 15

660 (112-2238) 23 18

622 (426-968) 6 9 46 (1.8-7 2) 9 7

Age (years) Practice time per week (h) Time as marksmen (years) Females Nonsmokers Snuffers Lead in air (tg/m 3) When powder charges were used Sampling time (h) Subjects studied When air guns were used Sampling time (h) Subjects studied During archery

Group III: archers (n = 13) 36 9 (17-65)

2 7 2

0 11 (0.10-0 13) 11 6

Sampling time (h) Subjects studied

Elmer 306), while the filters from the archery, including blank filters, were analyzed by ETA AAS. The detection limit, calculated for a 300-1 air sample, was 0.7 gg/m 3 for flame AAS and 0 007 gg/m 3 for ETA AAS.

Table 2 Blood lead levels in two groups of pistol marksmen using either powder or air as bullet propellant Archers who practice archery indoors served as referents

Statistics For comparisons between groups, Mann-Whitney U tests were used Correlations were tested with Kendall's rank correlation coefficients Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-ranks test was used in comparisons of B-Pb levels before and after the indoor season Results were regarded as statistically significant at the P

Lead exposure in indoor firing ranges.

Higher air lead levels (time-weighted average 660, range 112-2238 micrograms/m3) were measured in firing ranges where powder charges were employed tha...
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