Ascent Classical Academy used the wrong kind of post-remediation lead testing in the Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, according to CDPHE

How lead is dispersed at shooting ranges (Georgia Dept. of Public Health/Seattle Times)

The Vertex Company LLC of Denver, which Ascent Classical Academy hired to test the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building for lead contamination after the building was remediated, did the wrong kind of testing, says an specialist with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Caren Johannes of CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Compliance Unit, who oversees closed shooting ranges, looked over online remediation report (pdf) that Ascent posted its website on August 11, 2023, and concluded that the Vertex Company did the wrong kind of testing for lead in the building, so their results will not be valid.

Vertex used a wipe-sampling technique and compared the results to Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s allowable level for lead of <10 mcg/sq.ft. (micrograms per square foot). But, Johannes says, they “can’t consider wipe samples” because the HUD limit pertains to remediation of lead paint, not lead dust. In closed shooting ranges, like the Rocky Mountain Gun Club, the problem that needs remediating is poisonous lead dust, not lead-based paint, so wipe sample measurements aren’t valid.

Johannes says “bulk samples” have to be tested. This means actual samples must physically be taken from the building’s walls and tested to for total lead content. The areas of the building that were used as handgun ranges were of particular concern to her, she said, because of the elevated lead levels in these areas in Ascent’s report.

“Any observation over 100 mcg/sq. ft. needs to be sampled and run for toxicity characteristic leach procedure to determine if these is a hazardous waste there,” Johannes said. “If there is, then CDPHE has authority” over the building as a hazardous waste site.

Lead poisoning is insidious, which means it shows no symptoms until it’s too late, and it takes an extremely small amount of lead to poison a child. Children are far more sensitive to lead poisoning than adults.

Ascent Classical Academy charter school estimates 300 students in grades K-8 will start attending school in the old Rocky Mountain gun Club building on September 5. The school has not yet reported that it has obtained a certificate of occupancy for the building.

The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school September 5. The gun club signs were still on the building as of Tuesday, August 8.

  3 comments for “Ascent Classical Academy used the wrong kind of post-remediation lead testing in the Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, according to CDPHE

  1. Thank you Anne for doing the research. What steps does anyone know will further the right testing? Who is going to make this happen? I don’t get the Daily Sentinel but has it been reported there? I wouldn’t have my child going to any previously used Gun indoor range. What were they thinking?

    • I alerted Jay Seaton, publisher of the Sentinel, to the issue about a week and a half ago, and they haven’t picked up on it, which strikes me as odd considering the health, safety and lives of potentially hundreds of local children hang in the balance. I think a big part of the problem is that most people, including Sentinel personnel, don’t understand the insidiousness, gravity and long-term, irreversible effects of lead poisoning, and the fact that children are extra-sensitive to it.

  2. Wouldn’t this be a case for state or federal OSHA? The probable lead contamination would be a danger to people working there, as well as the children who attend the school.

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