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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A friend sent this to me and I figured I might as well pass it to you all.


I regularly scan the shooting lists for information of interest.

The EPA is now regulating the lead content of solder, fishing sinkers and tire weights.

Tire weights may now contain less lead and more antimony and tin which is fine if you wish hard bullets.

After winter rains many bullets can become exposed on the ground and behind the targets. Use a rubber tipped picker upper and a bucket to salvage them for your outdoor bullet metal alloying pot. The less handling of them the better. Keep in mind that the dirt at the outdoor ranges is coated with unseen lead residue and a suggestion is to wear washable shoes or boots while at the range and to leave then securely bagged in your vehicle until they can be safely stored at home so your floors at home will not be contaminated for crawling kids.
I have several Original new Saeco Steel Lead Hardness Testers Left.

Patients don\'t need lead in donated blood, especially if the blood goes to a newborn or preemie. The blood bank may
not specifically ask about lead levels, but they ask if you feel your blood is good to donate.. I have heard that persons that develop excess iron in their blood can ask the blood banks to take it from them. Whether they keep or toss it I don\'t know.

Some shooters feel it is good to donate blood regularly.

> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
This time of year the most likely source of exposure is airborne lead from primers, encountered while firing at indoor ranges without adequate ventilation.

To meet code, the HVAC system needs to flow a minimum of 50 feet per minute of clean air through each shooting port. Supplying and tempering that much air in the winter isn\'t cheap, and most clubs are not willing to spend the money.


My doctor says a lead level of 10 is a concern I just got my blood work back from the lab and I\'m a 37. My doctor said that a level of 18 is the highest safe level.

I had low 30s and here are my steps to battle it. The results are slowly reducing levels (3/4 to a point-and-a-half at a time) tested every 6 mos. They are reducing so slowly that, after talking about the steps I\'m taking to protect myself, the doctor asked if I could have been greatly exposed as a youth. Then I remembered, as a teen, casting musket balls while eating a sandwich.

Step #1: when you\'re done shooting, using wash your hands with a serous soap like Lava or, better yet, a mechanics hand cleaner, then wash them again. Before you eat, wash them again. Remember, that black gunk on your hands, cases, guns, etc., has lead in it.

Step #2: I try not to touch lead. I wear disposable gloves when handling lead AND while cleaning my guns. I still wash after. (This one I\'m not sure of because I\'ve not seen it confirmed by scientific sources, but it bears mentioning cause it makes so much sense. Someone told me that lead absorbtion through the skin is very slow - which I believe - but that solvents can help carry lead through your skin. Well, all that black gunk that comes off my guns when I clean them with - aha -solvents gets all over my hands. Hence the disposable gloves now.)

Step #3: If you can smell the powder while shooting, you\'re breathing some lead. Wear a respirator. Check safety supply houses (, for one) and get a rubber one with filters that can be changed. Get filters for the right particulate size (check BE archives -this has been discussed before). These are not expensive. Some peope claim disposable masks work, but they fit so poorly, I have my doubts.

Step #4: I have my vibe case cleaner near a window now, with a box fan in that window. When I open it to sort cases, the fan sucks the dust outside. I also hold my breath whenever I think a cloud of dust comes up. Even with the breeze, the dust swirls around me a little. I also wear mechanics coveralls to protect my clothes from that dust and wear disposable gloves (cheap at med. supply houses and beauty supply places - get nylon or other non-latex so as not to become latex sensative).

Where does the dust go outside? A kids play area?

Step #5: Be especially careful of dust at ranges. IOW, don\'t leave a pop open on the bench when practicing, don\'t eat around the range, etc. Also notice what you do with your clothes and SHOES (most people forget this) after being at the range. (Our local range has no target returns, so we have to walk down to change targets. We recently put a warning to all people with little kids at home to consider a pan of water at their doors to wash their shoes, or having dedicated range shoes so they don\'t track dust onto their rugs, for the little crawlers to absorb.)

Lead in our sport is most often absorbed by eating it or breathing it. Take steps to limit this. Bullet casters usually increase their serum lead because of dust inhalation or ingestion, NOT fumes. A metalurgist I know said lead begins to vaporize at several hundred degrees above the prime casting temps, so there is rarely lead vapor from casting, but dust from skimmings and handling are really bad in every setup he\'s ever seen. Which is true for every one I\'ve ever seen.

I have never seen a respirator mask on the range. But then, I\'m in Oregon. Proper use of cannister respirators according to OSHA is quite regimen of physician testing and maintenance procedures.

I now do all my casting in the summer in the garage with the doors open and sitting near the doors. Then when I\'m done, I hose the floor out the door. You would not believe the lead dust I wash away.

Where does the wash water end up?

That\'s not everything, but it\'s a good start. The best defence - against
lead as it is against many things - is eternal vigilance. Casting is not the problem if done with a little care. DO NOT
stand with your face over the molten lead. Good ventilation is the
answer. Cast outdoors if possible or have a good vent fan and hood.

In my studies and after a questionnaire with about 85 responses from
bullseye shooters, the conclusion is that shooter lead poisoning comes
mainly from indoor ranges. The predominate number of shooters who had
tested and had lead levels over 10 micrograms per deciliter, used indoor
ranges over 40% of the time.

Molten lead does not volatilize until the temperature is over 1,000
degrees Fahrenheit. Since bullet casting is done between about 725 and
825 degrees one should never have a problem. I expect the odor from
casting is due to impurities and flux.

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869 Posts
Good One!!! I have read that during seperating of brass from vibrator cleaning material is very bad for getting lead dust into your system. This is where you are pouring everything through the sieve to seperate brass from material. I would do this outside on the driveway where the airflow is good. I don\'t like indoor ranges because of the noise level but understand your point about lead in the air.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks FortyFive. Just figured we all love to shoot and that it would behove us to practice universal precautions to live and long and fruitful life putting rounds where we want them, not dying from lead toxicity.


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75 Posts
Thanks for the info. I need to be more careful from now on when I\'m making sinkers for fishing. After a few hours of constant pouring I have an awful headache.

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5,154 Posts
A few things.

Wash up with COLD water. You want to stop the absorption of lead so no warm water to wash up after a range session or handling lead. Don\'t forget all exposed skin, not just your hands.

NEVER eat, drink or smoke until you have cleaned up. Candy and gum are included.

NEVER have food or drink at the firing line or cleaning area. When I\'m shooting outdoors I keep a bottle of water. It is behind the firing line and has a cap over the pull top which only touches my mouth.

On indoor ranges do not use brooms to clean up brass. It basically stirs everything up. The clothing was mentioned, but what about your range bag. Don\'t forget to clean it or keep it away from food preparation areas and areas where children are.

Pregnant and lactating women should not shoot or handle lead. Children under 6-7 years old should not shoot or handle lead.

When I was shooting indoors all the time doing 3-500 rounds a week I would have my blood tested. No appreciable lead levels. As a Range Officer I also tested regularly, still no appreciable levels. I think my high mark was a 2.

Folow the basic precautions and you shouldn\'t have a problem.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Scot great addition. I never really gave lead exposure a thought until I came by the post I shared. After your addition, I did some percursory searching of the net for the effects of prolonged lead exposure. Take a gander.


What are the Adverse Health Effects that Lead Exposure Can Have on Adults?

The toxic nature of lead is well documented. Lead affects all organs and functions of the body to varying degrees. The frequency and severity of symptoms among exposed individuals depends upon the amount of exposure. The table below shows many of the key lead-induced health effects.

Neurological Effects
Peripheral neuropathy
Fatigue / Irritability
Impaired concentration
Hearing loss
Wrist / Foot drop

Heme Synthesis
Erythrocyte protoporphyrin elevation

Gastrointestinal Effects
Lead line on gingival tissue

Renal Effects
Chronic nephropathy with proximal tubular damage

Reproductive Effects Miscarriages/Stillbirths
Reduced sperm
Abnormal sperm


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Amounts of Lead Exposure

What Lead Levels are Considered Elevated in Adults?

At levels above 80 µg/dL, serious, permanent health damage may occur

Between 50 and 80 µg/dL, serious health damage may occur

At lead levels between 30 and 50 µg/dL, health damage may be occurring, even if there are no symptoms

From 20-30 µg/dL, regular exposure is occurring. There is some evidence of potential physiologic problems.

From 1-20 µg/dL, lead is building up in the body and some exposure is occurring

6 micrograms is the typical level for U.S. adults. Some exposure is occurring.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Activities possibly leading to Lead Exposure

What Are Some Sources of Lead Exposure?

Construction workers
Steel welders
Bridge reconstruction workers
Firing range instructors and cleaners
Remodelers and refinishers
Foundry workers
Scrap metal recyclers
Auto repairers
Cable splicers

Casting bullets or fishing sinkers
Home remodeling
Target shooting at firing ranges
Lead soldering
Auto repair
Stained glass making
Glazed pottery making

Substance Use
Some folk remedies
Some \"Health Foods\"
Moonshine whiskey

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APachon, good info.

Since I am a fairly active shooter and also a Range Officer I always have my lead levels checked at my annual physical. I could get it done with my quarterly blood test, but I usually don\'t ask. Those levels don\'t change that rapidly.

I know one guy who has lead issues. He was a lifelong range officer, most of it before much was known about exposure. We\'re talking 8 hours a day on a police range. His was bad. Haven\'t talked to him in years so I don\'t know how his levels are now.

IIRC the NRA CRSO course recommended a maximum level of 15ug/dl. They pretty much said if you exceeded that you should cease and desist until your levels dropped, and that takes a long time.

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Hmmm, guess I better not stop for an In-N-Out Burger on the way home from the range from now on, huh? :(

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Originally posted by Bumper
Hmmm, guess I better not stop for an In-N-Out Burger on the way home from the range from now on, huh? :(
Just go inside and wash up or carry some wipes with you to clean your hands and face off before you eat. I almost always go out to eat after a range session.

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Scary thing is I never really gave lead exposure much thought until I got that e-mail. Just goes to show you. Knowledge is power.

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