Poison on the range: Lead exposure

Poison on the range: Lead exposure

This is a discussion on Poison on the range: Lead exposure within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This is somethng I didn't do a lot of thinking about before Istarted shooting. The bottom line is that there can be significant exposure to ...

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Thread: Poison on the range: Lead exposure

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array DoctorBob's Avatar
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    Poison on the range: Lead exposure

    This is somethng I didn't do a lot of thinking about before Istarted shooting. The bottom line is that there can be significant exposure to lead at the range. Depending on how often and how much you shoot, you may be getting a dose that could hurt you. Lead is removed VERY slowly from your body. The half life can be as long as twenty years (half the dose excreted every 20 years). Your most significant exposure on the range would be from inhaling or swallowing the microscopic lead particles.

    The symptoms of lead poisoning involve multiple organ systems (lungs, blood, bone, brain, etc.). Symptoms can include:

    Loss of memory, and difficulty in concentration.
    Fatigue, insomnia, headaches, joint pain, abdominal and gastrointestinal probs
    Irritability and aggressiveness.
    Loss of sexual interest. Impotence.
    Depression.
    Neurological symptoms, such as hand twitching.
    Elevated blood pressure.
    Weight loss.
    Anemia.
    In women, menstrual irregularity and decreased fertility.
    Kidney damage and/or liver damage.
    Sore or bleeding gums

    There are several things you can do to minimize your exposure.

    Do not smoke, eat or drink while you are at the range
    Wash your hands thoroughly after shooting
    Wash your clothes (separately) after shooting
    Shower and wash your hair after shooting
    Use jacketed rounds
    Wear gloves when cleaning your weapon

    If one of my patients told me that s/he was using an indoor shooting range on a regular basis, I would seriously consider ordering a blood lead level. depending on the results, follow up testing might have to be done. Discuss it with your physician at your regular physical visit.

    Check out some of these links - the one from cornered cat is especially good

    http://corneredcat.com/Safety/lead.aspx
    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...8/ai_14214318/
    http://www.utexas.edu/safety/ehs/msds/lead.html
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/h67rh476p5p3666q/
    http://www.rangeinfo.org/resource_li.../Lead-OSHA.pdf
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5423a1.htm


  2. #2
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    Thank you for the reminder and information Dr. Bob.

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    VIP Member Array ctsketch's Avatar
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    call me crazy, but how many long term shooters are actually showing signs of lead poisoning? are we worrying about nothing?
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    Distinguished Member Array ErnieNWillis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctsketch View Post
    call me crazy, but how many long term shooters are actually showing signs of lead poisoning? are we worrying about nothing?

    Exactly what I was thinking.

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    Senior Member Array Sig35seven's Avatar
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    It's also very important to remember... er.... what's the topic again?

    I remember picking lead bird shot out of my teeth while eating the quail and pheasant we had hunted.
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    I have a bottle of wet wipes in my range bag and I always wipe down my hands before leaving the range and make sure I don't put them near my face or mouth before then (the exception would be putting on/off glasses and muffs).

    I read about washing clothes separately before but that seems like over kill. Even if I did that they are going to end up mixed in with other clothes at some point. Heck the other clothes will get car seat exposure (I'm not changing in the parking lot of the range!)

    I've also tried wearing gloves as I clean but they become a slippery mess. Instead I just use the wet wipes on my hands during when they get dirty. Then when all is done I'll wash with cool water as a final step. I also wash after dry firing practice as I can usually smell the lube (mmm, weaponshield, mmmm) on my hands afterwards.

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    VIP Member Array ctsketch's Avatar
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    Well all I get on my hands is powder residue, and I am either shooting FMJ or Copper bullets....
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    Senior Member Array Snowman23's Avatar
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    Really good stuff to consider. I've thought about gloves while cleaning before. I always keep a wet-wipes container in my bag while shooting to get all that junk off my thumbs after loading up a magazine. Thanks for the info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ctsketch View Post
    Well all I get on my hands is powder residue, and I am either shooting FMJ or Copper bullets....
    I believe the primers could contain lead unless you are shooting lead-free cartridges. Plus FMJ doesn't completely enclose all of the lead of the bullet. TMJ does.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array DoctorBob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctsketch View Post
    call me crazy, but how many long term shooters are actually showing signs of lead poisoning? are we worrying about nothing?
    There is no good lead level other than 0. Check out some of the links listed and you will see that epidemiological studies of people on pistol ranges (compared with people on archery ranges) had higher lead levels at the end of the season. It is a real potential problem depending on the range situation (how much ventilation) and how long you have been shooting (problem is cumulative) and how much you shoot each time.

    Washing the clothes separately flushes the lead particles down the drain. Otherwise, you can recontaminate your hands or aerosolize some particles and breath them in from the powder on you clothes.

    Guys, wipes won't do the job. You need to wash with soap and flush with water. You should take at least 15 - 30 seconds of washing in running water. (sing a chorus of 'She'll be coming round the mountain' to yourself while washing then rinse when you're done singing)

    The powder residue you get on your hands will contain microscopic lead particles that can be ingested if you don't wash them off.

    In medicine, we often ask if a treatment costs as much as either chewing gum or as much as a cadilac when comparing therapeutic options. Other things being equal, you choose the chewing gum option if you can. The avoidance techniques here are definitely chewing gum cost levels - you can apply them to your regular activities with little or no cost; why not do them?

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    A friend I shoot with is a doctor and since I cast bullets and shoot in an indoor range+ worked in a battery manufacturing plant about 30 years ago had my heavy metals in my system tested like lead and arsenic and I think mercury etc.MY LEAD LEVEL WAS SO HIGH THEY COULDN'T READ IT IT WAS OFF THE SCALE,THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN ONE AS HIGH AS MINE.I am currently getting Kelation treatments where once a week I gotta sit in a chair for 3+ hours getting an IV of drugs that flush the stuff out of my system,after about 10 treatments they will test me again and I can look forward to at least 30 treatments,I got pretty good insurance,but I think the treatments are several hundred bucks a whack
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    I work with lead and I shoot it quite a bit. I cast lead, I have over a dozen lead bullet molds, and when I do cast it's usually no less than a thousand at a time. When I say that I work with it, I mean I machine it. I drill holes in it, saw it, and make lead shielding for valves, "hot pipes" and all kinds of fancy little jigs so that Radiation Protection Specialists can read the dose rate of certain items at the Nuclear Plant. I even had to go through an OSHA approved course just to make sure I was aware of the consequences. I've been doing this for about 30 years.

    I've been a concealed handgun Instructor since 1995. I have trained several thousand students. That training includes shooting 50 rounds at paper. You could safely say that I have been" in it" in more ways than one.

    It is my understanding that the most damaging form and probably the most common form of lead poisoning comes from the ingestion of lead dust being absorbed into the blood from breathing. With some basic precautions, it is manageable.

    So, when all of the hoopla about lead use in general became the norm, my company paid to have me tested. I filled out an extensive survey outlining my history of lead use. They were interested in my blood survey because I was considered "high risk". After all of that, I my blood level was considered to be that of the average person. Now granted, I do take precautions. I don't eat before washing my hands when I've been shooting. When machining lead, we keep it wet, and try to generate as little dust as possible. I don't stand over the casting pot and I have very good ventilation when casting bullets. Like most things, common sense goes a long way here.

    With that being said, I do think that a lot of BS and hype is being spread about lead contamination at ranges. I live in a part of the state where lead mines in the Ozark Mountains were pretty common back in the late 1800's and even into the early 1900's. Some of this hype had lead to ranges being closed in the anti-gun states. Most of the mines here were located in creek bottoms at the foot of mountains. The water tested showed no lead contamination levels above normal. The lead that we shoot in the form of bullets, goes back into the ground in almost the same state that it came out of the ground. Lead is a natural product after all.

    I think that at one time, lead ingestion was a serious issue as some indoor ranges. The fine particulate dust that just sort of hung in the air due to poor ventilation was a hazard when breathed in. The newer ranges though, have some pretty expensive ventilation and filtering systems due to OSHA regs, so that may even be a thing of the past. Hopefully it is.

    The key to using lead and being around it is education and common sense. Years ago,the was no such thing as education about lead at all. As a machinist, I remember using "white lead" as a lubricant, it was some of the best stuff made, then all of a sudden they quit making it. We knew that getting "White Lead" into an open wound was to get instant lead poisoning so we took precautions not to let that happen.

    Educating about lead is a good thing and its a good reminder for us all to read up on it occasionally.

    For that, DoctorBob, I thank you.
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    I don't want to appear to encourage lead exposure or poo on the real risks of it. In fact, I had a colleague who studied lead poisoning in horses (35 years back). Not pretty.

    That said, when I was growing up ALL paint contained lots of lead, cadmium, zinc, and other heavy metals. Water pipes were copper with solder (lead containing) sweat joints.

    I shoot at an indoor range and I do worry a bit that their ventilation might not be what it should be to keep lead levels down, but then, I'm not a pro and not in there hours a week.

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    Interesting read on the information you provided Doctor Bob...Thank you. Quite honestly, the only lead poisoning I am truly worried about is the lead that comes out of the end of a muzzle and makes contact with my tired ole body! THAT poisoning can KILL you and THAT'S a fact!

    I saw some information just today on "fluoride" and the dangers of "fluoride" in water, toothpaste, etc. The information was advocating NOT to use any products containing fluoride as it will poison your system and make you dead....dead.....Ya know, we all have to go sometime. We can control some of the things that affect us and some we can't control. I will do my best without having these controls consume my every breathing moment. Besides...Al Gore,the inventor of the internet where I get all my information, has me convinced that Global Warming will have the planet so hot that I'm not gonna survive anyway!!
    Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.

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    Member Array GrandBob's Avatar
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    Loss of memory, and difficulty in concentration.
    Fatigue, insomnia, headaches, joint pain, abdominal and gastrointestinal probs
    Irritability and aggressiveness.
    Loss of sexual interest. Impotence.
    Depression.
    Neurological symptoms, such as hand twitching.
    Elevated blood pressure
    Weight loss.
    Anemia.
    Holy Crap!

    and all this time I thought I was just getting old!

    The only thing that puzzles me is weight loss. I dang sure aint done that.

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