Baltimore County police cited for high lead levels at shooting range

The Baltimore County Police Department plans to renovate its indoor shooting range in Lutherville after being cited for exposing employees to high concentrations of lead.

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health issued the citations in May after finding that the ventilation system operated poorly and other protections against lead exposure, such as regular disposal of combustible waste, were not in place.


Police spokeswoman Elise Armacost said the department is evaluating plans to improve ventilation.

"This project is in the design stages and will be funded once a final design is chosen," she said. "Chief [James] Johnson and the administration have been working on this for some time; both are committed to making sure we meet and exceed safety standards."


MOSH, which began its investigation in response to an anonymous complaint, found that county employees were exposed to lead in concentrations as much as three times the OSHA limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter.

Most of the violations were related to procedures, such as the lack of a written hazard communication plan on site, or the lack of proper safety gear, including respirators and protective coveralls.

Inspectors also found that certain surfaces were not cleaned.

"Employees had lunch on a desk where a wipe sample detected the presence of 95 micrograms of lead," inspectors reported.

Baltimore County police officers typically must go to the range twice a year to be recertified.

Lead particles released from firing weapons can enter the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream, which then carries them to soft tissue and bone. Lead can also be absorbed through skin or ingested through the mouth.

While children are most at risk for lead poisoning, symptoms in adults can include pain, high blood pressure, mood disorders, memory loss and miscarriage in pregnant women.