The Seattle Times recently published a five-part series entitled “Loaded with Lead” regarding the dangers of lead poisoning from shooting ranges. The series was researched over a one year period of time and studied private shooting ranges in nearly all 50 states. In the study, only 1 private range in NJ was inspected, but out of 17 violations, 14 of them were lead related. While the study was with regard to private ranges, the concerns are the same for New Jersey’s police and corrections officers.
New Jersey police and corrections officers spend many hours at shooting ranges to hone the skills necessary to serve and protect our communities. Exposure to lead can occur when they fire guns with lead-based ammunition spreading lead vapor and dust which are inhaled and stored in the body. In order to protect officers from becoming ill, the range must be properly ventilated or the concentration of lead can become very dangerous. In addition, exposure occurs when dust accumulates on surfaces. These surfaces should be regularly cleaned to eliminate the risk of exposure. NJ Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health is responsible for enforcing the standards at indoor firing ranges for public employees like police and correction officers. The New Jersey Department of Health also takes this issue seriously and has provided warnings for shooters.
The health risks for adults from exposure to lead include: high blood pressure, abdominal pain, constipation, joint pains, muscle pain, declines in mental functioning, pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities, headache, memory loss, and mood disorders, reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm, miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women and even death. Most of these symptoms do not occur until the levels of lead are already very high. If you believe you are at risk for lead poisoning, you should seek medical attention. A simple blood test is all that is necessary to make a diagnosis. Treatment can be as simple as removing all sources of contamination. In more serve cases, treatment includes drug therapy.
At Stark & Stark, PC we have experience in representing New Jersey’s public employee workforce and the issues specific to them including occupational illnesses due to exposure to toxins at work. Please call us today for your free, no obligation consultation.