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Previously on Dust In Case, we’ve looked at selecting the right type of vacuum to safely remove gunpowder at firing ranges. Gunpowder dust’s dangers go beyond just combustibility, however, and the answer as to why lies within its makeup of lead dust and its own hazardous properties…

Why is Lead Dust Harmful?

Lead occurs naturally and can be found in many forms. Most of the lead used to produce ammunition  is in its metallic form or in various lead compounds (such as “lead styphnate” or “lead azide” used  in primers) which have a very low reactivity. Despite their relatively inert properties, these can  easily result in harmful health effects over time which firing range operators should be aware of  and concerned about.

Firing range workers are exposed to lead dust on a daily basis when a firearm shoots off ammunition and produces it. Workers may inadvertently breathe it in when the dust is in the air, or swallow it  as it comes into contact with a worker’s skin or face due to the dust’s microscopic size that makes it easy to pass through the linings of the lungs and into the bloodstream. Frequently exposed firing range workers to lead dust puts them at risk of experiencing lead poisoning and other harmful affects to the brain, nerves, red blood cells, kidneys and reproductive systems of both men and women. It’s a potential health risk that can only be remedied when firing range operators enforce safe housekeeping measures with the right kind of industrial vacuum cleaner.

Which Vacuum Should I Use for Lead Dust?

If you are a firing range owner who deals with the presence of lead dust from ammunition at your facility, you need a specialized industrial vacuum system built for the removal of this hazardous material. The environment in which your firing range is located will play an important role in choosing which type of industrial vacuum cleaner will work best to safely remove lead dust from the  area, as unburned gun powder has combustible properties that react differently when placed indoors or outdoors. That being said, which vacuum should you use for removing your lead dust?

Indoor Firing Ranges

Dry sweeping, wiping, and dusting are not proper cleaning methods for indoor firing range facilities due to the increased risk of them to becoming airborne. However, there’s one additional
aspect to take into consideration: Indoor firing range’s atmospheric pressure increase the risk for a combustible dust explosion. To safely avoid this, vacuum systems for indoor firing ranges with lead dust should be:

Legally certified explosion proof to prevent unburned or spilled gunpowder from accidentally igniting
• Use a HEPA filter that will return only clean air while containing and filtering harmful materials
• Safely contain harmful lead dust without letting the operator come into any contact with them during the removal process

Outdoor Firing Ranges

Again, dry sweeping, wiping, and dusting are not proper cleaning methods for outdoor firing range facilities, as this allows them to be stirred up and allows them to become airborne. vacuums for outdoor ranges with lead dust should do the following:

• Use a HEPA filter that will return only clean air while containing and filtering harmful materials
• Safely contain harmful lead dust without letting the operator come into any contact with them during the removal process