America’s National Guard armories host community events from weddings to school sleepovers. They also house indoor firing ranges where part-time soldiers once tested their skills. Every time someone pulled the trigger, a bullet cast off bits of lead. 

The Oregonian/OregonLive’s 18-month investigation found that the Guard’s neglect allowed lead dust to build up and contaminate hundreds of armories. Top officials knew about the problem for decades but did little to address it, exposing soldiers and families to harm.

The new series, Toxic Armories, includes a national database compiled from thousands of pages of inspection reports.