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Lead Poisoning --Valuable Health Information

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by actionflies, Oct 4, 2007.

  1. actionflies

    actionflies New Member

    STAFF INSERT: I believe this discussion contains some valuable information bearing on certain health aspects of shooting, reloading, and particularly bullet casting. It is therefore floated at the top of the forum, at least temporarily. Thanks especially to actionflies for starting the thread, and to redneck2 for bringing it to my attention.
    Johnny Guest
    THR Staff
    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-poisoning/FL00068/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.

    STAFF INSERT: 14JAN2008 UPDATE by actionfiles:

    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:
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2008
  2. Kimber1911_06238

    Kimber1911_06238 New Member

    that sucks, what are the procedures for lowering the lead levels in your blood?
  3. Linear Thinker

    Linear Thinker New Member

    Action, Kimber - I have some experience in this matter. After many years of running indoor matches at a poorly ventilated range, my blood lead level was 21 ppB.

    OSHA regs classify anything above 10 ppB for non-occupational exposure, and above 40 ppB for occupational exposure as dangerous. I had the obligatory calls from the state DEP, and OSHA. Told them I was casting my own fishing sinkers.

    I had the range vent system redesigned, and stopped using exposed lead bullets. ~3 years later, my lead level is 13 ppB. Heavy metals take a long time to leave your system, as they accumulate in the marrow and the tissue.

    Chelation (chemical displacement) is used in extreme cases of poisoning, it's extremely unpleasant.

    There are folks on this board and others that will tell you that lead is good for you, they eat it for breakfast every day. Do your own research, and speak to a toxicologist or a pathologist (he/she would be delighted to talk to a living person ;) )

    351 WINCHESTER New Member

    I used to shoot in an indoor range. After each session I felt "weird". Had trouble breathing and felt run down. I don't know if it was the lead or the smoke from the powder/primer, but I quit going and it's outdoors only shooting and with lead bullets I make sure the wind is in my favor.
  5. strat81

    strat81 New Member

    I thought medical records were private... HIPAA and all that stuff. Why are your blood test results being sent to the .gov? Did you consent for the lab to do that?
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator


    HIPPA is a BIG BIG DEAL at the hospital where I work. :scrutiny:

    We cannot tell anybody anything without the patients permission - IN WRITING!
  7. jmorris

    jmorris Active Member

    as linear said time and reduced exposure is the only way to rid your body of lead. I too had elevated lead levels as well as several in our local club, after abandoning the indoor range we shot (for outdoor) at and a year’s time the level dropped back into “normal” range.
  8. kingpin008

    kingpin008 New Member

    Action - Sorry to hear that! I recently had a BLL test since I shoot at an indoor range. Thankfully I'm good to go. One thing I do to help "neutralize" any extra lead I may have taken in while shooting, is to make sure and wash my hands really well before I leave the range, and I keep a pack or two of Vitamin C drops in my car. Vitamin C has some chelating properties, and while it may not exactly be a cure-all, it certainly doesn't hurt to pop a few drops and suck on 'em on the way home.

    Good luck getting those levels down, hope you're able to get back to shooting & reloading soon!
  9. JohnMcD348

    JohnMcD348 New Member

    With HIPPA, like many other rules in the health care industry, there are areas that include mandatory reporting. Things like suspected domestic violence, battery on a minor or elderly, and such, potential outbreak and high risk infections like (TB). I would suppose Lead would be in that catagory also.
  10. SWModel19

    SWModel19 New Member

    That's how I would handle it. No need to give anti-gun politicos more ammo (so to speak) to label firearms a health threat.
  11. Davo

    Davo New Member

    Could this be from primer residue, and not the actual projectile?
  12. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Active Member


    Primers contain lead compounds. There was an Australian study (IIRC) that indicated most lead exposure from shooting (as opposed to reloading/casting) was due to primer compounds and not from metallic lead in the bullets.

    I don't know if that's conclusive, but it's certainly true that a good bit of inhaled lead from a shooting range comes from the primers and not the bullet.
  13. Linear Thinker

    Linear Thinker New Member

    Strat - I was very concerned when I got the calls from the gummint, and started investigating. I was more concerned about my privacy or lack thereof, than my health.
    Turns out that the diagnostic labs in my state and some others are required to report to the government certain test results, including elevated blood lead levels.
    It's all done for the protection of workers exposed to lead, PCBs, MEK etc. in the workplace.
    I feel better now, knowing that the Big Brother is looking out for me.

    But seriously, having been in the machining and plating industry, I knew people who had serious health issues after chemicals exposure, and died young.
    So, as much as I dislike the privacy loss, I understand the rationale.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2007
  14. rdhood

    rdhood New Member

    primer residue? Yikes! Maybe I should start wearing disposable gloves when dealing with dirty brass?

    I have avoided the whole lead bullet thing for two reasons: lead poisoning and barrel fouling. Plated or FMJ for me.
  15. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Active Member

    Turn the fmj bullet over, that bare lead on the bottom, and yes it does vaporize under the high heat of propellent ignition.
  16. ID_shooting

    ID_shooting New Member

    Health care industry worker here. Yes, regardless of what you think HIPPA may mean, labs are requiered to notify state CDC reps of results like lead exposure.
  17. jmorris

    jmorris Active Member

    If only there motive was to improve your health and not generate more revenue through fines. FWIW I never got a call from big brother, but then again I live in Texas.
  18. walking arsenal

    walking arsenal Active Member

    Feeling "run down" after shooting is normal. You flinch every time you fire. that uses a lot of muscles. wears you out. don't know about the breathing.
  19. strat81

    strat81 New Member

    Maybe I should give up shooting and play with chinese-made toys instead. ;-)
  20. Clark

    Clark New Member

    There was a huge amount of information about lead poisoning posted on rec.guns newsgroup [not the WWW, but part of the internet, like email] about 10 years ago. Google has stopped it's search from finding anything older than July 2003. The site is still there in Google, if you already have the links.

    What do I remember?
    Only those that work in indoor ranges, not shooters, without ventilation, can get real lead poisoning. All indoor ranges now have ventilation.

    A serious lead poisoning cannot be caused by shooting or casting, but will be caused by sanding off lead paint.

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