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Lead Poisoning....this is not good news

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by esheato, Oct 6, 2004.

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  1. esheato

    esheato Member

    Apr 8, 2003
    I got a lead test last week because a fellow shooter got tested and found out he is really high on the scale with a 34.

    Results came back today for me. I'm a 35 :what: I don't know what these numbers mean or what I can do about it, but I have an appt with my doc this afternoon. To put it in perspective, normal adults over age 15 have normal lead levels of 0-9.

    I should know more this afternoon.

  2. OF

    OF Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Just look at it this way, you're above average! :)

    Seriously, let us know what the doc says.

    - Gabe
  3. RavenVT100

    RavenVT100 Member

    Aug 18, 2004
    Just out of curiosity, how long have you been shooting during your lifetime?
  4. R.H. Lee

    R.H. Lee Member

    Jan 26, 2004
    Is there a way to leach metals out of the body? Some health food/holistic medicine method?
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Lubbock, TX
    By any chance do you cast your own bullets?

    Normally lead has to be inhaled or ingested to cause high levels. Also, if you live in an old home with lead soldered plumbing it can cause problems, as can some knock off tableware and dishes made with lead-containing glazes or metal alloys.

    Poorly ventilated ranges create a lot of lead dust, which can be inhaled.

  6. Kharn

    Kharn Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    How often do you shoot at an indoor range?

  7. mete

    mete Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    The chelate EDTA is one of the things used . It is approved by AMA but the treatment also removes deposits in the blood vessels which works better than bypass surgery.Removing deposits is not approved by the AMA ????? Supplements of zinc and vitamin C will reduce the amount of lead in your system [Zinc and Other Micronutrients by Pfeiffer ]. Amounts higher than 25 mg percent is considered too much.
  8. Sindawe

    Sindawe Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Outside The People's Republic of Boulder, CO
    I suggest looking into EDTA as well. The stuff works great at binding metals. Used to use it to push proteins off of the Zinc elements of a chromotography column.

    To reduce lead in your body, your doctor may recommend chelation therapy. In chelation therapy, you receive a chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) through injections in your veins (intravenously). The EDTA binds with the lead so that it's excreted from your body. Depending on your lead level, you may need a large number of treatments. And the therapy may not reverse damage that already has occurred in cases of severe lead intoxication.

    Source: http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/FL/00068.html
  9. Mikul

    Mikul Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Your number is high, but not dangerous. There are two sets of numbers: one for your average Joe, and the other for people who work around lead.

    Doctors won't chelate until your number hits 60.

    Airborne particulates are the real danger. If you spend a lot of time shooting in a poorly ventilated indoor range, you're in trouble. If you reload, the dust and powder that go with tumbling are the big hazards. Do it outside and wear a good mask when you do.

    Otherwise, wash your hands. Wash them again.

    Taking these precautions (in addition to aspirin), a friend of mine dropped his lead level from 36 to 19 in nine months.
  10. chevrofreak

    chevrofreak Member

    Jan 5, 2003
    Billings, Montana
    A year ago I shot in a man-on-man shotgun steel competition. You could SEE the cloud of powdered lead coming off the poppers!. I could taste the lead in the air, and had a sore throat for several days.
  11. Binkster

    Binkster Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Lehigh Valley, PA
    Safe Lead Blood Levels

    I got the following information from the OSHA.gov web site. I am in the environmental business and I am licensed and certified to perform lead abatement work. OSHA regulates the amount of lead dust worker exposure and blood levels. My field guys that do lead work on a regular basis usually stay in the 10-20 range. Your current lead level is considered safe according to OSHA standards and would not require any immediate action. I am of the opinion, however, that anything above normal (approximately 15) should warrant some change in action on your part.

    1926.62(k) Medical removal protection

    Compliance with the medical removal protection (MRP) aspects of the standard can only be determined after review of the employer's medical surveillance program, as described in section (j).
    (k)(1)(i) Unlike the general industry standard for lead, the lead in construction standard, 29 CFR 1926.62, requires that a result of 50 ug/dl or more on two consecutive blood lead tests requires temporary medical removal of the employee and compensation with medical removal protection benefits (MRPB). Employers are not permitted to average blood lead test results to determine eligibility for medical removal.

    If the result of an employee's initial medical surveillance (blood lead test) is at or above 50 ug/dl, and the result of a follow-up test is also at or above 50 ug/dl, then the employee must be removed in accordance with (k)(1)(i).
  12. Minion82

    Minion82 Member

    Sep 19, 2003
    Yes, there are ways to remove that stuff naturally. My dad had several such procedures done recently to remove mercury and nickel that was causing serious health problems, and my understanding is that the same procedures can be used to remove other heavy metals.

    One such method involved soaking the feet while running some kind of current (there's more to it, but I don't recall exactly what); my dad said the water turned black (!!) from the metals being removed. The other widely used method is sauna, because your body removes a lot of heavy metals through sweat... but, it must be the right kind of sauna with the right kind of heating elements, otherwise you can do just as much harm as good. Keep in mind that these methods are slow, and require repeated treatments. However, they are also non-invasive and won't do any other damage to your system.

    esheato, I can dig up the info for my Dad's doc if you want. He's in Reno, which is a bit of a drive from where you are, but you could still do a day trip.
  13. TallPine

    TallPine Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    somewhere in the middle of Montana
    I am more concerned about the extremely sudden forms of lead poisoning.
  14. Das Pferd

    Das Pferd Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    could you explain you situation surrounding this? Where you work, how much you shoot, do you reload, etc. How could you have been exposed to the lead? Its it just because you shoot often etc.

    This information would help others protect themselves. I mean, if you are a casual shooter then others should be worried. However if you work at an indoor range then I can see how it might happen.

    Please clarify.
  15. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    0 hrs east of TN
    If you smoke you should never have you cigs with you on the range or while reloading ammuniton. You should never light up without double washing your hands first.

    Binkster's correct. While your levels are high and you should try to find out what is the source of the exposure you're not in any immediate danger. You'd have to shoot a lot more often than the average THR member to get elevated lead blood levels like this so look at what possible sources of exposure you might have had in the week prior to the blood test. Get retested in a week and let us know if your levels have dropped.
  16. atek3

    atek3 Member

    Mar 5, 2003
    SW CT
    When I was a university student I had my health insurance cover a lead test, I was and am a high volume shooter and reloader. My lead levels were very low. Then again, I don't cast lead, shoot cast lead ammo, shoot indoors (okay once every 6 months :) ), or eat after shooting without washing my hands and face.

  17. Matt G

    Matt G Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    N. TX
    Anybody know what "the number" represents? Is it PPM? (Parts per million)

    I have read that the white dusty older lead is more dangerous. Any biochemists here that can explain that? At what rate, if any, does Pb oxidize? How reactive is the oxidation, if that's what the white crust is?
  18. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

    Sep 10, 2004
    Old water pipes.
  19. Jonathan

    Jonathan Member

    Jul 17, 2004

    Ironically enough, I am a biochemist :D

    However, it's really a medical profession you're looking for. The answer was previously posted:

    Although they talk about "ug", they really mean "µg", which is micrograms. One microgram would be 1/1000000 of a gram, or about 0.0000154 grains.

    My best guess for dl is deciliter, since I seem to recall that medical professionals like that unit of volume. Equal to 1/10 of a liter.

    Again, my best guess is that they're talking about blood concentration.

    Dusty old lead in powder form is probably more dangerous because it's loose, powdery, and easier to inhale. Once it's in your body, it's probably just the same as any other form with respect to toxicity.
  20. AZ Jeff

    AZ Jeff Member

    Jan 21, 2003
    Phoenix, AZ
    Lead levels in the human body, when measured via blood test are expressed as "micrograms per deciliter". That said, here are some factors to consider:

    (BTW, all of the below comes from stuff I have read by the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, aka "ASLET". These guys are more likely to be exposed to lead in an indoor environment than are more other shooters, so they have done LOTS of research on the topic.)

    Most of the issue with lead ingestion comes from shooting on INDOOR RANGES. The ones outdoors have enough ventilation and natural "cleaning" factors to reduce the lead ingestion levels pretty easily.

    Lead ingestion by shooters comes from 4 major sources, not necessarily listed in order of significance:
    1. molten airborne lead particles generated during firing, melting off the back of lead bullets, and inhaled
    2. particulate lead absorbed when touching/handling lead bullets
    3. lead primer byproducts inhaled as a result of shooting
    4. molten lead particles inhaled during casting lead bullets

    Most of us don't cast our own bullets, so we can ignore #4 above as a source of lead ingestion. However...source #3 above is by FAR the BIGGEST CONTRIBUTOR to lead ingestion by shooters. (It's something like 10 times greater than the next highest source!!)

    The reason here is that, most "non-corrosive" primers contain lead styphnate or something similar. When lead primers ignite, the chemical reaction creates a lead salt that is airborne, and worse yet, it hydroscopic, like all salts. It picks up moisture easily.

    Guess what's in your throat and lungs? Lots of moisture, waiting for the lead salt to combine with it. Instant absorbtion.

    The solution---RIGOROUS cleanliness on the range, and care when shooting indoors:

    1. Don't smoke, eat, or drink on the range. You are ingesting just that much more lead in doing so.
    2. Don't shoot on an indoor range that does not ventilate by pulling combustion products AWAY from the shooting line. If you MUST shoot on a range with poor ventilation (Lord knows why), use an OSHA approved mask.
    3. DON'T SWEEP with a broom on an indoor range. The floor is COVERED in lead salts, and brooming puts them back in the air.
    4. Once you are done shooting on an indoor range, wash your hands immediately. If you can take a shower and change clothes ASAP, all the better.
    5. Lastly, DON'T go to bed after shooting indoors until you take a shower and wash your hair. You hair traps lots of lead particles that will transfer to your pillow, and then to your mouth/nose while sleeping.

    People I know who have followed the above rules can sucessfully shoot indoors A LOT (like IPSC practice multiple times per week) without having excessive lead levels.
  21. esheato

    esheato Member

    Apr 8, 2003
    Wow, a lot of questions to answer...let me attempt to elaborate.

    Five years, but I exclusively shoot lead in autopistols and quite a bit of them at that.
    Yes, on the average of once a week, but it's usually 6-7 hours of casting/sizing.
    Not that often anymore, but I used to on a regular basis. I still hang out there at least a few nights a week.
    I work in an office setting, so no lead there. It's purely hobby (shooting) related. "Occupational hazard" is what the doc called it. I usually shoot about 700-2000 rounds per month depending upon available time. I do reload pistol and shotgun (lots of lead involved here) and I cast about once a week. I've never really got into the habit of washing my hands after playing with bullets. And...I smoke.

    I am assuming I'm taking on lead from handling of bullets and breathing casting vapors. The way the doc explained it to me:

    The scale of measurement is in micrograms.
    Normal people my age (27) have about 20-25 mg.
    People that work around lead, 25-30+ mg.

    "While your lead is elevated, it's not really of significant concern yet," is what he told me.

    If your lead gets up to 40-60 WITH SYMPTOMS (abdominal pain, nervous system probs, etc...) then medication would be a solution.

    If you don't have any symptoms, 60-80 is where the concern becomes overwhelming.

    He also said 120 mg is where the SHTF.

    90-95% of absorbed/inhaled lead is filtered through kidneys and expelled through the body. Only 5% is pushed into bone structure for your life. But...if you're constantly high on the scale, 5% can add up over a lifetime of shooting/casting.

    They want me back in a month for another test so we can start keeping track of my levels.

    My immediate solutions are:

    -latex gloves while sizing or reloading. (I considered latex during casting, but if for some reason hot lead gets on latex gloves which are on my hands...you see where I'm going here?)
    -a significant increase in the frequency of handwashing
    -dedicated reloading times and no smoking or eating during those time-periods
    -reduction of time spent at indoor range, and no sweeping or cleaning up the place.

    I'm not expecting any probs, but I'm going to do what I can to lower the amount I have so far. Should be interesting...:banghead:

  22. Wedge

    Wedge Member

    Oct 6, 2003
    Why not wear the latex while casting? If hot lead gets on your hands it is going to burn your hands. A latex glove is pretty thin and I don't think it would contribute to that much to additional burning...I think the lead will do most of the job for you and a little melted latex will be the least problems...I don't cast my own bullets so I don't know for sure.

    Thanks for the post though. I think I am going to start wearing gloves when I am cleaning my guns. I hope you are able to make enough changes to get better :)
  23. DigMe

    DigMe Member

    May 14, 2003
    Waco, TX
    Was this treatment done by a doctor? Not to jump to conclusions but it just sounds a bit....quackish.

    brad cook
  24. skeetlover

    skeetlover Member

    Dec 12, 2003
    Sounds like a good idea to wear the latex while loading and or handling lead. A mask or ventilator also sounds like a sound investment. The cleaner and less we inhale or ingest the better off we are. Treat this lead problem as serious as possible. It is a threat and needs to be dealt with. Do everything possible to keep the lead content as low as possible. I will be going to the store to pick up gloves and mask ASAP.

  25. J Miller

    J Miller Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Central IL
    OK, and now for some more questions reguarding lead poisoning.
    To any of your knowledge, can lead poisoning cause chronic exhaustion?
    What other symptoms should one be on the lookout for with lead poisoning?
    Who would we call to test the water or check the paint in the house?
    Any suggestions are appreciated.

    Mrs. J Miller
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