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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone here have their lead levels checked routinely? How much exposure (shooting, cleaning, reloading, casting) does one need before considering a routine lead level check? Thanks.
 

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During a routine physical a couple years ago, I asked about this. My physician had to send me out to a lab to have blood drawn for this, because his office didn't have the proper tubes to draw for this fairly uncommon request.

I don't recall the "number" associated with my results. But it was not alarming to the doctor and was well below levels at which OSHA would require action in an occupational setting. The doctor told me that one of the most common causes of elevated lead levels in adults was the consumption of "moonshine" whiskey. Apparently, some moonshiners use automobile radiators as the condensers for their stills and the solder joints in these leach lead into the whiskey.

Since there is money to be made (litigation and abatement) from public hysteria over lead, much of the information on the 'net is shrill and exaggerated. A fairly reasonable essay on "lead poisoning" can be found at http://www.drkoop.com/news/focus/feb/lead.html

Rosco
 

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Lead poisoning is serious.

If you shoot indoors, cast your own bullets or reload a lot of lead it is something you'll want to pay attention to and be aware of.

The majority of lead that shooters ingest is orally I am told. Simple things like washing your hands after shoting and reloading will help. If you shoot a lot in indoor ranges hopefully their ventalation is good. A closed range can be a real problem.

The only problems I have had with lead....and they were unpleasant were from reloading and shooting indoors. I know several bullet casters that it was a very serious problem for.

I shoot a lot more jacketed bullets because of my experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I wear gloves while reloading and shoot copper-jacketed bullets most of the time. But I shoot mostly at indoor ranges, and the dust kicks up a bit during matches. The ventilation system seems pretty good, but I have no real way of knowing whether it is adequate.

Quite a few people at the local range have had their lead levels tested in past, and they haven't had any problems. I've only met one person who had high lead levels (enough to warrant treatment), but he was shooting, reloading, and casting.

I'd appreciate anyone else's thoughts on the matter. Thanks.
 

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While jacketed bullets can offer some advantages (no smoke from burning lube, gun staying cleaner longer, etc), don't be scared away from cast bullets because of lead concerns. As Dane pointed out, commonsense measures like simply washing one's hands after shooting or reloading will minimize any exposure. Besides, in actual SHOOTING, the PRIMERS are putting more lead into the atmosphere than are the bullets.

At high enough levels, lead will make you insane. I've been told that, in earlier times, hatmakers were heavily exposed to lead in the course of their occupation...thus the expression "mad as a hatter" and the Mad Hatter character of Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Rosco

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Rosco Benson on 2001-04-20 14:44 ]</font>
 

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On 2001-04-20 14:42, Rosco Benson wrote:
Besides, in actual SHOOTING, the PRIMERS are putting more lead into the atmosphere than are the bullets.
Absolutely correct Rosco. That's why many ammo manufacturers are changing to lead-free primer compounds. I believe Winchester was the first. Some may have already noticed that the new Winchester .45 ACP brass has a noticeably larger flash hole. This is to accomodate the slightly different ignition characteristics of the new lead-free primer.

It will not be long until all commercially loaded ammo has lead free primers.
 

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I've only fired a box or two of the Winchester "Winclean" ammo. no problems. but I have heard of people having an occasional "dud" round though.
 

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Interesting point about the primers Rosco -- I hadn't really considered that.

BTW, IIRC, it was the glue that was used by hat makers that caused there madness. Lead poisoning was a problem with painters as some would have a habit of holding paint brushes with their teeth. Which may explain some of the late 19th century painters eccentric behavior. That and over consumption of Absinthe. :grin:

DD
 

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I believe that hatters used mercury in some way, which is what caused the older ones' insanity. Sorry I can't remember more details.
 

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Right you are George. Curiousity got the best of me, so I did a quick search. The following information is from The Hat Site.

The initial stage in the hat making process would be the plucking of the coarse guard hairs from the beaver pelt, which was then brushed, with a solution of nitrate of mercury.

This would raise the scales on the fur shafts so that they would become firmly locked together. This process became known as "carotting" and if carried out in a poorly ventilated room, the mercury fumes could damage the brain, hence the expression "mad as a hatter".

DD
 

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I know a range owner who used to be a totally immersed IPSC shooter - 12-15000 rounds a month. He managed to get lead poisoning. The mechanism for getting the lead into his mouth was smoking. We was always smoking after shooting or taking a smoke break from a reload session.

He said that he never felt sick. The doc told him he would be fine and that he just needed to wash up before smoking. End of problem.
 

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I can't remember what the unit of measure is, but mine got up to 30 and my doctor said that 60 was considered serious. He and I worked out a plan that got it back down to 18 in a year. That's about where it is now.
The human body does not need lead in any amounts so there is no standard.
Every person absorbs lead differently. Two people can live and work side by side and have different levels.

I have friends who weld and solder a lot and they have to be careful of lead as ell as other metallic compounds they are exposed to. One friend had to stop shooting or stop living. Bad set of choices to have to make.

If you shoot or reload a lot , get it checked at least annually.
Neil
 

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Any amount of lead in your body is bad news. Lead and humans from new-born to 5yrs of age is bad news. Lead is really bad for young children!

Now shooting and cleaning your arms and reloading your arms will not present serious problems of you maintain good hygine and wash your hands and body very well. The only problem for shooters-reloaders which is a serious safety hazard is casting lead bullets. I suggest that when casting ( as I do) you wear old clothing used for nothing but casting. Additionally I also wear leather gloves which sheild my hands and forarms from hot lead, and lead exposure. A half-mask with a particle/chemical filter keeps fumes and particulate matter out of my lungs and keeps me from ingesting lead orally. Lastly, take a good shower and wash your clothes at the wash mart, not at home, and make sure young children never come near your casting equipment.

Now as for blood-lead-levels.

Let's use our brains for a minute and think about what these tests indicate.

Testing of blood Pb levels tell us only recent and ongoing exposure to sources (point or indicator sources) of lead. These are useful, but blood testing is not the true picture of lead testing/exposure indicators.

Perhaps just as or more important is the Pb levels of your bone marrow and bones. Lead is an awful heavy element, and it is absorbed or injested into the body, it enters the circulatory sys and eventually is finally deposited in the skeletal system. Being heavy in nature the lead is very effective at settling into bones and causing them to be brittle amongst other problems. So truth is that blood and bone samples are needed to provide an accurate accessment of Pb exposure levels. I'm sorry, but blood tests alone do not reflect the level of Pb in your body, only in blood. Bone tells the real story of what's inside. Because once it settles in lead doesn't flush itself out; and that is why Pb testing of just blood is not accurate. It gives the impression that one is within safe limits if points go down. All the while, Pb is stored in bones, and may not be noticed by simple blood testing.

Sounds bad. But realize that the only real concerns are among those of us who handle lead in industrial applications, cast bullets, or have young children. Typical shooting or reloading is not going to cause any problems. Remember to keep children from exposure, wash hands-body well after handling lead, and wear personal protective gear, and work in well ventilated areas.

Keep reloading and shooting and have fun.
 

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Keep the kids away from it...and Shane...You know there's no excuse for your madness...Nice guy but..."mad as a hatter"

yuk

Just giggin' ya'! :eek:

Hand washing and wearing a true filter if you have to breathe it will cut down on almost all of it...I know thatno one ever wears a mask, but it really would help...

As with most things ingested, it's your hands that transfer the most contaminants and germs...

:wink:
 

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It's great to gather this type of info. I never really thought too much about lead except that the ventilation at my local range wants to freeze us out all winter.

I am curious though about why you would wash your lead contaminated clothes at a public laundry?

Webb
 

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You wash your dedicated lead casting clothing in a public facility for the folliwing reason.

It eliminates the possibility of contaminating your own clothing, as well as that of your child's. It is just a good preventive measure used by workers in the lead-metals industry. This is enforced by MSHA and OSHA. In fact clothing used in lead conentration and smelting cannot leave the work premesis, and must be cleaned-washed on site. Washing clothes at work reduces the contamination risk on families. Prevention!

So that is why you wash your clothes in a public facility. It protects you and your family, while contaminating other peoples clothing who use the same wash machine. That's the down side I guess.

Now I'm no toxicoligist, but I work with lead daily, and have researched this topic fairly thoroughly. I will repeat that any lead exposure is not healthy, especially in children newborn to 5yrs. of age. Shooting exposes very little hazard if any at all to adults, but casting is a different story. If you must cast I would follow my directions for precauctions reguarding lead. And if you cast often (which I do at times), please do it in good ventilation, and seriously consider using a half mask with particulate/chemical filter. This keeps out tiny particles which are naked to the eye, and the fumes which are very bad to inhilate. And please clean your hands after using lead.

Hope I don't sound too much like a know-it-all on this subject. I have tried to give the best information I have reguarding this subject, and given it in simple form, and simple instruction. Lead makes the very best pistol bullets in the world for big game hunting, and economics. That's why I cast. But please be careful, as careless handling is potentially dangerous.


Mountain Man
 

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2 days after teaching a 7 day police academy basic firearms course on the local county's indoor range, I had my lead level checked. It came back rather high-42 mcg.In the past years it has been between 12- 15 regularly.
Neal, if you read this - curious to know what measures your doctor suggested to assist in lowering this; other than the obvious avoiding exposure. This range obviously needs a better ventalation system. In lieu of that, I'm pushing the academy director to switch to lead-free ammo. Does anyone know OSHA's specific requirements for an indoor range. Any other suggestions or comments would be appreciated...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Mark Garrity on 2001-04-28 03:29 ]</font>
 

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A few years ago, A Boeing worker in Seattle used a lead hammer in his job. The lead particles that came from the hammer head lodged in his clothing. He came home. His wife washed the clothes in their washing machine. The entire family became lead contaminated. Or so the lawsuit read. Now you get why the public laundromat? Only problem there is that you may pick up contamination of a much worse sort from the previous user.
Rosco, I wondered why I acted so peculiar.
Actually, using a lead, tin, antimony alloy reduces the possibility of breathing in contaminating particulates, especially if you have an exhaust fan over the pot. The lead fumes are not a problem at all until the lead reaches 700 plus degrees.
Pure lead, like in black powder bullets, is another and more dangerous situation. It pays to wear gloves.
Many primer makers have gone away from lead styphnate to a non lead primer.
You cn taste lead in your mouth on an indoor range...even one with an aggressive exhaust system...after about 20 minutes.
The process for removing lead from your blood is gruesome. Called chillation, it removes ALL of the metals from the blood, and in certain cases has proved fatal.
The best way to handle it is to shoot jacketed bullets and use non lead primers.
By the way, did you know that copper is even worse in some respects as a contaminant?
So, no matter what you use, wash your hands after exposure with soap or dishwqshing detergent and water, dry thoroughly on paper towels and discard the towels immediately before eating, drinking smoking or placing you hands in proximity with your skin. Remember mommas telling you that "cleanliness is next to godliness"?
 

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Good post John!

Main thing to keep in mind is to wear personal protection gear and as John stated in his post "cleanliness".

If anyone had question about lead exposure I suggest you look into OSHA or Centers for Disease Control web sites. I'm certain they can provide anyone with proper information about prevention and treatment.

Best Reguards
Mountain Man
 
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