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Lead. Is it safe you work with?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by coolluke01, Jan 14, 2012.

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  1. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Well-Known Member

    I load 9mm with plated bullets. I shoot a G34. I'm thinking about getting a compensator with a lone wolf barrel. If I do this I was thinking I could load with lead now.
    The main question is that I have little kids and I reload in my basement. Is lead safe for me to deal with? I know I would have to wash hands and keep the area clean. Also keep the kids from playing with the lead bullets, I don't let them play near the area.
    The main reason I would change from plated to lead would be cost savings.

    Is it worth it? Would it be advisable given my situation? Would shooting plated be easier to clean from the barrel?

    Any help would be great.
  2. JimKirk

    JimKirk Well-Known Member

    It'll cause all your children to be born nekkd and so ugly that you'll tote them upside down thinking they are one eyed...

    Other than that ...unless you don't have the proper vents for melting lead/casting you would not be exposed to very much ... wash your hands.

    Lead oxide is the stuff you'd need worry about ... the gray dusty looking stuff ...
  3. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Well-Known Member

    I don't think i'll ever cast my own.
    I've also read the sticky post about high blood levels from shooting high amounts of lead. 200-300 rounds a week outdoors shouldn't be a problem right?
  4. RandyP

    RandyP Well-Known Member

    Outdoor shooting exposure is very minimal, inside handling of pre-cast lead bullets? IMHO it is a non-issue if you follow basic sanitary precautions. Like don't chew any bullets or grind them into dust and breathe the vapors - lol

    I also fish as a hobby, I've been handling lead sinkers for over 50 years now without giving lead exposure a second thought.

    I agree that casting/smelting lead indoors without REALLY good exhaust ventillation is not the best practice to avoid exposure to lead vapors. AFAIK it is the breathing in of the vapors or ingestion that could present a health issue over the long term.

    I reckon if you want to be uber-anal you could wear a pair of blue nitrile gloves while reloading?
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  5. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Well-Known Member

    how about leading in barrels? Is it harder to clean than copper?
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Light leading is easy to clean, heavy leading is not.

    Leading can be virtually eliminated with the right load.
  7. ambidextrous1

    ambidextrous1 Well-Known Member

    The lead styphnate in primers can be a significant source of lead poisoning, as contained in the dust residue when tumbling. I perform that operation outdoors, especially when pouring the cleaning media from the vibrating "tumbler" into its storage container. I always wash up thoroughly after tumbling operations.

    I had my lead level checked after 15 years of reloading. It was within normal limists-not elevated.
  8. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    I recently had my blood check and my lead limit was 8. Wiki says 10 is a cause for concern. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_lead_level

    I wash my hands frequently, never eat after a small bore match without washing hands first. I only handle lead bullets when shooting or reloading.

    I also shoot outside. Good ventilation is important.

    However it is not a cure all as my Doctor told me of the blood test of a local who works at an indoor range. I have shot there and the air moves fast from the firing point. Even so, the employee had "really high" levels of lead in his blood.

    You can also absorb lead through the skin.

    Kids are small, I just don't know the toxicity levels for kids.
  9. Josh45

    Josh45 Well-Known Member

    Leading is a chore in self to clean when it is heavy. I know.....I had it. It takes a few minutes with the right stuff to take it off. I would suggest getting stuff made for it to remove it. I used a chore boy scrubber and I also got a lead removal cloth thing at the gun store. It helps....

    Also dont forget some hoppes....It also is good with it.
  10. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Being as lea melts at 622.4 degrees and we cast at a slightly higher temperature, and lead boils at 3182 degrees which is WAY HIGHER than folks cast at, casting lead bullets is of little concern.

    Shooting inside and breathing the fumes, eating or drinking while shooting, not washing ones hands while hdling lead all contribute much more to the problem.

    BTW, I have been casting indoors for 50 years because of health issues not related at all to lead I have my blood levels tested 3 times a year, I usually am in the 4 to 5 range.

    With that said YMMV
  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    I believe this is poor advice. When you melt lead you increase the amount of lead that is in the atmosphere above the liquid. This is vapor pressure.

    You know, water boils at 212 F, the human body is about 98.6 F, and yet I can fog up the windows of my car with my breath.

    Though I looked for lead vapor pressure diagrams, I did not find one. I did find lots of phase diagrams on lead/tin mixtures which are neat.


    I would expect the hotter the lead the higher the vapor pressure.

    There are warnings not to inhale flux fumes


    Kansas Dept of Health:


    Given that any lead in the body is bad, and we know that even the amount of solid lead that came off piping, cups, etc, into water, was enough to kill people, I think breathing the gases above molten lead is a bad idea.

    This shooter posted information on Lead Poisoning and the Shooter:

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  12. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Well-Known Member

    Dealing with lead presents a lot of health issues. Even shooting outdoors can be bad if the the wind is in your face. Indoor range must take it away from you but also exhaust it in such that it does not get sucked back in the ventilation systems. You have lead residue in fired brass too like early mentioned. Wearing Nitrile Gloves will limit your exposure. As far as your young kits, they like putting stuff in there mouth. Your best bet is to keep them out completely, and/or lock up all of your brass, bullets and ammo. But may still have residue on your bench top. You could use paper to cover your bench then trash it after each session. You can get rolls used for paint masking pretty cheap.
  13. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    I know lead in the human body is of concern, but I think, like so many other things nowadays, it's been blown way out of proportion.
    I've been casting on a very regular basis for almost 10 years and shooting lead bullets, almost exclusively, in my handguns for closer to 30 years. No problems at all. I've handled and fired countless thousands of rounds of 22 LR ammunition and I'm still here. As a teenager I shot trap competitively and handled lead shot weekly as I loaded ammo for competition. As a young kid, I used to bite split-shot sinkers to crimp them on my fishing line...still alive.

    Like some of the other posters have said, I think there's far greater danger in inhaling it in environments such as an indoor shooting range than in handling bullets.

    If I were you, I'd head over to the Cast Boolit forum and do a little research there. Some of those guys will handle more lead in a week than others will handle in a year. There are posts there regarding lead levels in blood.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  14. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Absolutly what 35 Whelen says!

    As I ated in my previous post, I've been casting for 50 years with no ill effects, indoors no less.

    At my age of 68 I'll just continue as I have been, I've MUCH greater health issues to worry about, I'd have to dig a hole to find just where lead is on my chart of things to be concerned with.

    Good grief, I used to pinch lead shot closed with my teeth.

    You youngsters, go get a BLL test so as you have a baseline to work with.
  15. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Another thing to take note of or to think about, even if by chance the lead does/is vaporizing its still a heavy metal and is very unlikely to be found any distance higher than the pots surface. I doubt there are many out there who are going to stick their nose very close to the 800 degree plus molten surface.

    But then I may be wrong.
  16. coolluke01

    coolluke01 Well-Known Member

    I guess I forgot about splitshot sinkers. I bite those all the time. But i'm sure it's more of a consideration of contact time.
    The main question is about the issues you guys are having that are supposedly not related to lead. Are they really unrelated?
    They thought asbestos was ok for a long time.
    Yeah yeah I know you old timers had baby toys made out of it and you're still fine :what: more of less.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  17. jcwit

    jcwit Well-Known Member

    Forty years of being a heavy smoker (I know, I was stupid) and now not having any lung capacity has nothing to do with lead.

    Being a cancer surivor (leukemia) was traced to cleaning engine parts in benzine, and possibly fertilizer, nothing to do with lead.

    People have carried lead balls/bullets in their bodies for years and years with no ill effects except for the pain of the foreign object.

    I only wish folks would get as upset over all the deaths caused by alcohol, drugs, and cell phone use on the highways and byways.

    We really seem to have our priorities screwed up.
  18. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    When doing my own research on this topic, I did run across that idiot statement about the boiling point of lead, and it was on Cast boolits. Forgive me if I decide not to follow the toxicity advice from people who probably did not take a chemistry class.

    Here is a nice long thread on too much lead in the blood from this forum, it went nine pages, and it was very interesting.


    Handloading and reloading Moderator

    For the last 4 months I have been shooting a lot and of lead bullets 10k+ in 45acp (lasercast and mastercast bullets) from a covered outdoor range and reloading. On each session, I would shoot around 200 rds. and there would be a lot of smoke around while shooting. After each session, I would wash my hands and face and blow my nose and my muccus is usually stained with some black goo and I also wash my hands after reloading. Just last week I went in for blood test for lead poisoning and today the result came back with abnormal level at 57 mcg/dL (micrograms per deciliter) here's a link for lead poisoning http://mayoclinic.com/health/lead-po...068/DSECTION=1. This was very high and even the local OSHA person called me thinking it was work related until I told him it was from shooting lead bullet and inhaling lead fumes. I notice there are no visible lead fumes when shooting outdoor with no cover (action range for ispc etc.) because a breeze is blowing, but a different story in a covered outdoor range because there was a cloud of smoke everytime I shot lead bullet. I know a few older guys tells me they cast and shoot a lot of lead bullets and they feel ok, but when was the last time they had a blood test for lead? I feel terrible about this and a major let down to my favorite hobby. I'm going to stop using lead bullet and will look into using Rainier or Berry's plated bullet from now on and will take a break from shooting until I recover. I recommend anyone that shoot a lot of lead bullet should go get a blood test.

    Update: Just talked to my doctor and he recommend that I stay away from lead and comeback in 2 months for another blood test. If my lead level doesn't drop then I need a treatment call Thelation therapy. This treatment has strong side affect and could cause other complications. I also talked to an OSHA toxicology and he recommended the same path for treatment. Furthermore, I did a research on the internet and found that there were studies where 1000mg of vitamin C taken dialy have shown to reduce lead level significantly, so I'm going to take vitamin C for now. I also wanted to point out that I use the word 'lead poisoning' loosely, but in my case I was not sick or had any symptoms of lead poisoning. I only started shooting lead bullet in June, so this was a case of early detection and not lead poisoning. I think if I was sick, my doctor would of recommend Thelation therapy right away.

    I got my 2nd blood test result after 3 months of not shooting and taking 1000mg of vitamin C daily, it went down from 57mcg/dL (Oct.) to 22mcg/dL (Jan.) I am sold on vitamin C and will continue to take it daily. You can buy a bottle at Costco - Kirkland brand 500 tablet 1000mg for $10. Here are links to association between vitamin C and lead:

    There are more warnings on the web, from Universities and State Health Departments, on lead casting in non ventilated environments.

    Like these:

    New Jersey Heath Department Warning


    The article Hazards of Lead Exposure at recguns is interesting even though it deals with lead exposure at indoor shooting ranges.

    Please note the man who died shortly after exposure to indoor range air borne lead.


    I will bet that twenty years ago I would have been arguing with you over the safety of smoking cigarettes. I knew lots of two pack a day smokers who insisted that smoking was not dangerous, or the danger was exaggerated. I cannot think of one of those who did not die, and die quickly, after cancer diagnosis.

    And I am really upset over cell phone, texting, and web surfing by drivers. :cuss:

    You just have to perform a google search to find warnings in the medical literature about the toxicity of lead objects in a patients body.

    And people who died.









    Last edited: Jan 14, 2012
  19. ranger335v

    ranger335v Well-Known Member

    JC is correct, the current PC horror of any contact with anything lead is vastly over blown. If not, a lot of us would have died long ago. And our benevolent nanny gobbermint would have outlawed any bullet or sinker casting at all, as they very much would like to do. Don't cast with your head under a hood with your smelting pot and don't lick the gray color off you fingers and you'll be fine.

    Ditto your kids. One of mine crawled her way into my loading room when my head was turned, grabbed a handful of #8 birdshot and swallowed it before I got to her. Took her to a hospital, x-rays showed a neat trail of white spots working along her intestines but none had gotten caught in the appendix. Doc told me to take her home and everything would come out fine in the end. He was right; she's a grandma now.
  20. J2FLAN

    J2FLAN Well-Known Member

    I have been loading/shooting lead bullets for almost 40yrs, and after a quick check in the mirror, I can say, FOR A FACT, it causes OLD AGE :)
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