High blood lead levels in recreational indoor-shooters

Short Communication



Recreational shooting in indoor firing ranges is very popular in Germany. Lead-containing ammunition is still in use. Therefore we checked the blood lead levels (BLL) from 129 subjects doing several types of shooting disciplines.


In total, BLLs of 129 shooters (nine female) from 11 different shooting ranges with a mean age of 49 years were measured. The blood samples were taken after the volunteers had given written informed consent. Determination of lead was carried out by graphite furnace atomic absorption (GF-AAS) under strict internal and external quality control schemes.


While individuals shooting only with airguns (n = 20) showed a median BLL of 33 μg/l (range 18–127 μg/l), those who were also users of .22 lr weapons (n = 15) turned out to have a median of 87 μg/l (range 14–172 μg/l). Shooters of .22 lr and large calibre handguns (9 mm or larger) (n = 51) had median 107 μg/l (range 27–375 μg/l) and those only using large calibre handguns (n = 32) had median 100 μg/l (range 28–326 μg/l). The IPSC-group (n = 11) had the highest median with 192 μg/l (range 32–521 μg/l).


Our results show clearly that many shooters have high blood levels; some of them are still exceeding threshold limit values (TLVs) for lead exposed workers. Especially for younger women there is a high potential risk if they become pregnant. So there is a clear need for improving the situation whether by use of lead-free ammunition or by better ventilation systems.


Lead Blood Indoor  Shooting range 



We wish to thank the Bavarian shooting association (BSSB e.V.), participating shooting clubs and all the shooters who were involved in this study. We thank Stefan Gröbmair for excellent blood lead analyses. We also thank Dr. Simon Ogston, University of Dundee, for checking the English grammar. Data published here are part of the doctoral thesis of Matthias Demmeler at LMU.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Demmeler
    • 1
  • Dennis Nowak
    • 1
  • Rudolf Schierl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental MedicineUniversity MunichMunichGermany

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