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Lead Contamination Shuts Down Gun Shop, Youth Gymnastics Club In Milpitas

MILPITAS (KPIX 5) -- Two businesses in Milpitas have been shut down after Santa Clara County Environmental Health inspectors found elevated levels of lead in both of them.

Inspectors red-tagged Target Masters West, a gun store and indoor shooting range, along with Sweet's Gymnastics after tests showed the businesses were unsafe to occupy.

"We ended up taking samples with our partners, the California Department of Public Health. And Friday we got the results back and decided
they were concerning enough that we should just shut down both locations," said Michael Balliet, Director of Environmental Health for Santa Clara County.

Although Sweet's Gymnastics notified its members by email, one family came for a gymnastics lesson Monday afternoon and were turned away at the door.

"The closer we were to Target Masters, the more lead there was," said David Sweet, who has taught gymnastics for 30 years.

His studio caters to young gymnasts, including many preschoolers.

"When you're dealing with children, any amount is high. Lead is just not acceptable for children.  We weren't like off the charts high, but it was high enough," Sweet said.

His business is the apparent victim of crossover lead contamination from the gun range next door.

"The facility has been here a long time, and some cracks in our cleaning happened," said Bill Heskett, who owns the gun shop and range, Target Masters West has occupied the same site for 30 years.

"The residue has built up in a couple of spots and we're having to clean it all up," Heskett said.

Inspectors suspect lead particles from all bullets fired at the range over the years may have come out through the gun range's ventilation system and drifted into the air intakes of the gymnastics studio, contaminating it.

"It's a shame that Mr. Sweet has been dragged into this," Heskett said.

Workers spend the day cleaning the businesses inside and out. So far, officials are not saying how much lead was present in either place.
The investigation is on-going.

County inspectors were tipped off by the Capital and Main website of a possible lead migration between businesses last week.

Both businesses will have to pass another inspection before they are allowed to re-open.

County officials say customers of either business who are concerned should get tested for lead exposure by their own physicians.

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