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Is lead contact that much of a health issue?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by FlSwampRat, May 29, 2019.

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  1. RodII

    RodII Member

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    I started reloading in 1973. When I first started it was common practice to clean primer pockets with a small screwdriver, the black soot went everywhere. I no longer clean primer pockets, not because of exposure but because of not being needed.
     
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  2. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    I worked w solder for a couple decades. Cast a fair amount bullets as a kid and have been shooting over fourty years.

    Also wash my hands and dont smoke. Been lead tested, as has my dad thats cast zillions of bullets.

    Blood tests are clean. Always have been. Even back in the day we knew to vent the air and not lick the bullets
     
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  3. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    Solvents and diet sodas more of a concern imho
     
  4. priler

    priler Member

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    I just wanted to add that spirulina, chlorella and cilantro can be used to eliminate toxic heavy metals from the body. just make sure you get a quality product as some sources out there, particularly from some places like China, already come contaminated.
     
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  5. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    It's very easy to mitigate health risks from lead in shooting sports, but the overwhelming majority of shooters are in denial about the fact that it is afflicting their health personally.

    Minimize your exposure at indoor shooting ranges -- avoid them entirely if possible. If you do spend time at an indoor range, make it one that excludes lead-styphnate primers and exposed lead bullets (cast and FMJ). Lead begins to vaporize at temperatures as low as when it melts (621 deg. F) and progressively vaporizes more at higher temperatures. The 3400 deg. F flame temperature of smokeless powder is certainly high enough to vaporize significant amounts of lead. Plated and hollowpoint bullets prevent most lead vaporization with a copper barrier.

    Plated and hollowpoint, copper/tin frangible, and solid copper bullets avoid lead vaporization and also lead contamination on your skin when you're handling bullets to load magazines or cylinders, or seating bullets on the press. Skin contact with metallic lead isn't the highest risk shooters face, but it becomes more concerning when it's lead salts like residue from primers, or when the lead on the skin is ingested through eating, drinking or smoking where the fingers contact the mouth or contaminate items that go in the mouth. Hands should be washed with soap and cold water. Hot water will increase the absorption of lead through the skin, which is otherwise a fairly low risk.

    It's good to wear nitrile gloves when you clean the guns with solvents. Besides lead, copper is also toxic -- not nearly as much so but it is.

    If your brass is contaminated with lead and lead styphnate from bullets and primers, don't clean it in dry media where the dust will become contaminated and then shook into the air and all over everything when its vibrating, tumbling and being sifted in the media separator.

    I shoot lead-free primers exclusively. They're Fiocchi brand and use Aluminum/Bismith Oxide. These primers are better than lead styphnate primers in every way. Federal has decided as much and proclaimed their intent to make all their ammunition with this type of primer for which their brand-name is "Catalyst." These are no compromise primers. They eliminate a toxin that does very real damage to people and what's more is they burn cleaner and shoot with no less dependability. If they didn't, Federal wouldn't adopt them to become known as the unreliable loser with poor performance. That would devastate their leadership position in the ammunition market. They're going for it because it's an unequivocal win in every way. Everyone else will follow and lead styphnate primers will shortly be as archaic as the mercury fulminate ones have long been.

    Why haven't they adopted these primers already? Because you're a sucker. You'll keep buying the same crap you've always bought and they'll still make plenty of profit and for now that's their primary responsibility to their shareholders. It won't stay that way for long, but there will be especially stupid fools that think leaders in the ammo market are making this change to screw customers and they'll continue to seek out lead-styphnate from the losers because they'll convince themselves Bismith Oxide is a communist plot to sabotage them. Don't be a dumbass.
     
  6. bob97

    bob97 Member

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    The effects are way worse for the same exposure on children as compared to adults. I take precautions to not bring residue in the house.

    I am not the least bit worried about myself.
     
  7. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    At normal casting temperatures the vapor pressure of lead is extremely low, as would be expected from such a dense element. You have to get a pot of leaf pretty darned hot before you start getting significant vaporization.

    I used to have a link to a graph showing this, but I don’t remember where it is now.
     
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  8. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Member

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    I am in denial about most of the frantic health warnings that are issued regularly. Too many people who were exposed to all these hazards have lived to a ripe old age without problems predicted for exposure to so called "risky" things. I grew up on a farm in southern Iowa and was regularly exposed to leaded gasoline (we washed the grease and oil residue from our hands with it after working on farm equipment and tractors), we played with mercury in our bare hands in elementary school, my Dad smoked most of the time I was home (he later quit but did not die at 88 from any smoking related disease), and I have worked in a field (commercial refrigeration) that exposes me on a daily basis to most things that California has declared a carcinogen. I am 65 years old, still doing hard physical labor on a daily basis, and do not take medications for anything. The rest of my family can relate similar stories so forgive me for being a skeptic of the Chicken Little crowd.
     
  9. drk1

    drk1 Member

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    As a kid we had a great toy -- a lead soldier casting set. There was a little furnace and about three different molds for soldiers. We'd cast anywhere from 5 to 100 soldiers a day and never thought anything of it other than trying to avoid setting the garage on fire or spilling the lead on us. After that came shooting, casting and reloading for over fifty years. From the 1980s to just past 2000, I had medical tests on a pretty regular basis, trying to find a match to friends who needed a donor. Never had any lead show up in these medical tests. I admit that I haven't had any tests for almost twenty years now, but I have not shot, cast or reloaded as much as I did back then. Lead became a big deal for two groups -- children and lawyers. If you look back over the growth of concern about lead, you'll see that most of the concern began developing when it was discovered that very young children, many with developmental disorders, were testing positive for high levels of lead. Well, the feds funded all sorts of health studies to discover the source of this "lead crisis" and wouldn't you know it, it was the kids themselves. The little crumb snatchers were eating the chips of lead paint that fell off the walls and wood-work of old houses and apartments, often provided by the feds as Section 8 housing. The researchers even discovered that the old lead paint made the paint chips taste sweet. So the little kids ate and ate and got sick. So... being government types, they jumped from there to all lead exposure was bad for you. Pretty soon there were federal standards for lead in all sorts of things from crystal decanters, which are no longer legal to import from places like Czech Rep., to body shops to gun ranges. The lawyers for the sporting goods and retail industries didn't want to be left out so they joined the chorus of people singing about the hazards of lead. When I was setting up stores for one of the big retail chains, for example, they made us wear cheap dust masks just while we were putting out the bags of lead shot. One of the big DIY home centers imposed the same rule on employees putting out lead anchors for a while. I tried to explain to the big shots in the sporting goods company that 1) the shelves wouldn't hold all the weight of the lead, and 2) wearing a mask while putting it out wouldn't mean very much if the folks buying the bags were picking them up and dropping them to make sure they were full and weren't short on weight which many people did. Sure enough the shelves collapsed, many of the bags broke and there was lead everywhere in the store. And after a couple of months, they quit selling shot. Folks have already covered the basic issues - be carefully when melting and casting, wash your hands after handling and make sure the indoor range has good ventilation -- for which there are gov't standards! Thanks for bringing up the topic.
     
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  10. Odd Job

    Odd Job Moderator Staff Member

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    My experience is similar to @bds
    I fired a lot of .22 indoors over a period of two years and my serum lead levels were at the upper limit (any higher and I would have required treatment of some sort).

    In my case it was inhaled particles, made significantly worse by shooting with a suppressor. It's one downside of shooting suppressed, especially with .22LR

    I am due for another test. I've been shooting less indoors and less frequently too.

    I've tried shooting with a 3M mask, but it is difficult to get a cheek weld and generally uncomfortable.

    What would help a fair amount, shooting a .22 rifle from the bench would be a fan blowing from behind. A lot of blowback comes out of the action when shooting suppressed and it is not good to inhale that. It also gets in my eyes. Perhaps a fan would be better than nothing.
     
  11. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    There's always duct tape ... :D

    When working as OR Tech in the Army, we would tape the tops of surgical masks to our faces so glasses wouldn't fog up during surgery. ;)

    Take care of your lead level or you will start acting like me from lead poisoning. :eek:
     
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  12. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I don't really think it's as big of a problem as some folks think it is if you take reasonable precautions.

    I mean I've been shooting in an indoor environment for several years now and I'm perfectly fyne. I meen Iff tHey'ire wus aproblemms wuddn't eye no iT buy naoe?$? Having adequate vanthilation is ah gude idia, but wearing gloves all the time seems a tad excessive.
     
  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    A great signature line right there.

    Were you shooting lead bullets, or jacketed? Does jacketed make a real difference?
     
  14. Double Naught Spy

    Double Naught Spy Sus Venator

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    I don't knock people for being cautious, even if they aren't cautious in the most helpful manners. I still remember when many folks in the shooting community considered hearing protection to be for sissies and the 'perceived' risk wasn't worth the effort. Sometimes the community standards of "common knowledge" aren't at the high end of the spectrum.

    With that said, I have known two folks in the shooting community who have had to go through chelation therapy for high lead levels. One was a firearms instructor (police). The other was just a reloader. Chelation was exceptionally unpleasant for both of them.

    Jacketed bullets do make a difference. Total metal jacketed bullets make even more of a difference.
     
  15. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Member

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    Shot in a couple of indoor ranges many years ago and hated it...the noise and confinement is really unpleasant. So, if it's an option for you guys out there, do like I do. I only shoot outdoors and belong to an outdoor gun club. Thanks to this thread, I plan to make a couple of changes in my reloading operation. I will start wearing the gloves for the handling of dirty brass and fishing them out of the dry tumbler. My reloading area is well ventilated next to an open garage door. Plus, I frequently use a fan during warm days.
     
  16. mdauben

    mdauben Member

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    The main issue would be if he ate or smoked after the range, without washing his hands. A bigger issue at indoor ranges would be breathing the lead fumes or particles if there isn't sufficient air circulation. Ingestion and inhalation of lead are much bigger concerns than skin contact.
     
  17. BlueHeelerFl

    BlueHeelerFl Member

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    I used to work in Public health and performed lead testing on children, and the body does eliminate lead on its own.

    As others have stated injesting lead can be an issue, so be sure to wash your hands before eating or drinking. That is the biggest issue for children diagnosed with lead exposure. Children eating old paint chips, chewing or sucking cheap stuff made in China (lots of Chinese products are discovered to have excessive lead) or lead dust brought home from work on clothes or tools that kids get a hold of.

    IMO the amount of lead exposure during a typical indoor range session shouldn't be an issue to someone not already diagnosed with lead exposure.
     
  18. Texas10mm

    Texas10mm Member

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    .22 LR bullets aren't jacketed. At most they are plated with an extremely thin coat of copper.

    The burning of the powder column behind a lead bullet doesn't vaporize lead, nor does it melt the lead off the bottom of the bullet. It's an extremely brief temperature excursion.
     
  19. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Ah, yep. Good point and important distinction.
     
  20. mdauben

    mdauben Member

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    Lead pipes in the water system are not normally a health problem. In a properly maintained system water system, lead pipes naturally develop a surface coating that prevents lead from dissolving into the water. The problem in Flint MI (for example) wasn't that they had lead pipes, but that they mismanaged the system and destroyed that natural coating, which allowed lead to leach into the drinking water (and then tried to ignore and deny there was a problem).
     
  21. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    Sitting on the couch proly worse for ones health than shooting lead.......
     
  22. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    It is if you bend down towards the floor to pick up spent brass and inhale lead dust as lead dust settles on the floor. And depending on the ventilation system, can stir up lead dust from the floor.

    According to this 4/25/14 CDC report on indoor ranges and elevated blood lead levels, there likely is a link - https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...-much-of-a-health-issue.852055/#post-11145192
     
  23. rodinal220

    rodinal220 Member

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    No. If you exercise common sense, kind of like "don't eat the paint chips" kind of thing you will be fine. When I was on the job for 20 years we shot mostly indoors, we also got our blood checked during our annual physicals, always below accepted levels. I handload and cast my own bullets, so I had more exposure than most, and my blood tests were always GTG.

    I agree, some indoor ranges have poor ventilation and wearing a respirator is a good idea.
     
  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    New (3rd year) indoor range here has up to date ventilation which I can hope is carrying primer smoke and lead fume away from me, and rubber mulch bullet trap which avoids spatter. They have sinks in the range "airlocks" with D-Lead soap, which I use faithfully.
    I shoot mostly coated and plated bullets at centerfire, so my only source of lead is my standard velocity .22s and a few .38 wadcutters. But there are The Other People.
    I have a Medicare Wellness ("warm body") checkup scheduled, I'll pay for a blood lead test to be included.
     
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  25. Hookeye

    Hookeye Member

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    The air at my local indoor range blows down range.
    It's got an annoying amount of flow.
    Ridiculously high IMHO.
    I guess we all need to practice there in case of a polar bear charge.

    CDC says gun ranges are a risk...............wow, bet the AMA thinks so too.
    Thank goodness there's never any political bias to their studies/reports.
     
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