The Oregon Military Department has closed all 12 of its indoor gun ranges at armories across the state over concerns about high levels of lead dust.
The closures came after preliminary testing at the Forest Grove and McMinnville armories found surface levels of lead beyond thresholds allowed by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).
The Forest Grove armory was closed entirely, and the McMinnville armory was closed to public events and rentals, though military personnel continue to operate out of the building, said Capt. Stephen Bomar, OMD spokesman.
Indoor gun ranges were closed at additional armories in Salem, Baker City, Coos Bay, Ontario, Roseburg, Springfield, Pendleton, Bend, Portland and Ashland, though air and surface testing at those facilities were within permissible levels, Bomar said.
Bomar said testing of lead levels at OMD’s indoor ranges was first conducted in 2012. Based on preliminary sampling in 2014, all 12 indoor ranges were closed for use in November, though Bomar said he did not know what the results were that prompted the closures.
So far, seven of the 12 armories with indoor ranges have been tested for lead, Bomar said. Of those, only Forest Grove and McMinnville showed troubling results.
Sampling was done at the Forest Grove armory on Jan. 9 of this year. The results, received on Jan. 12 according to Bomar, were “concerning enough to move people out of the armory,” and prompted the closure of the entire building.
Lead is a naturally occurring metal that can be dangerous if inhaled or ingested at certain levels. Lead can cause serious health effects, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular and reproductive problems, and lower kidney function, according to OSHA.