NIOSH evaluated the noise exposure of a SWAT team in Fort Collins, CO, during training exercises. Hearing was tested before and immediately after training sessions. Noise measurements were made of firearms and of the protection offered by customized hearing protectors. Most officers did not show any change in hearing after shooting, but the oldest group did show mild hearing loss at higher frequencies. Firearm noise was between 159 and 169 dB, which was greater than the 140 dB peak limit for impulsive noise. Peak noise reductions from the ear plugs, ear muffs, and customized protectors were in the 30 dB range. Double hearing protection (plugs plus muffs) added 15-20 dB of additional protection [NIOSH 2003].
Health Effects: Exposure to high noise levels can cause hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), stress, high blood pressure, fatigue, and gastro-intestinal problems.
Use personal protective equipment (PPE): Wear double hearing protection (earplugs and earmuffs) and eye protection when shooting. Wear a brimmed cap and tight-fitting clothes for protection against hot shells and ejected casings if the rangeâ€™s shooting stations are in very close proximity. Wear properly-fitted respirators and full protective outer clothing for maintenance activities that involve close contact with lead dust or spent bullets. Wear gloves and eye protection when using chemicals to clean firearms.For Further Information
- [NIOSH document] NIOSH/CDC Workplace Solutions document "Reducing Exposure to Lead and Noise at Outdoor Firing Ranges." Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Publication No. 2013-104.
- [CDC soap info] NIOSH web site information on soap and wipes developed specifically for lead removal from skin and other surfaces.
The WMFGA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, located in Missoula, Montana. We are a membership-based organization that owns and operates the Deer Creek Shooting Center (DCSC). The mission of the WMFGA is to provide safe and accessible recreational shooting to its members, foster firearm safety, encourage youth shooting opportunities, support and promote wildlife management for sportsmen, and protect Montanans' right to keep and bear arms.
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Western MT Fish & Game Association (WMFGA)
P.O. Box 4294
Missoula, MT 59806