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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just came back from my annual physical, and I had requested a test for lead level among the various tests they do on your blood sample. To my surprise, I have an elevated level, 23, on a scale where 0 to 9 is deemed acceptable. I say to my surprise, because I haven't even started reloading yet, and over 95% of my centerfire shooting is with FMJ factory ammo, 9mm, .45 acp and .38 special. We have weekly plates matches, outdoors, and I will shoot 100 to 200 rounds. I may go out during midweek, shoot maybe another 100-200 rounds. Near the line , you are exposed to some smoke, depending on the wind and weather. I haven't been to the little indoor .22 range (except for a couple of quick work visits) since last winter, that would be a prime suspect, because of lead bullets, poor air handling system, advanced age, and not great maintenance.
I am in the process of setting up two presses, and have 4,000 lasercast lead bullets in stock; guess I will be using latex gloves and wearing a mask. In future, maybe I will spend more and get fully encapsulated bullets.
I was really surprised at this result, I am mostly outdoors, with jacketed ammo.
Others have any stories, advice, feedback? :scratch:

Edit: light bulb just went on , in preparing for new presses, I have been churning a lot of brass thru my new vibratory cleaner and media separator, out in the garage, literally thousands of cases. I wear gloves when handling, but no mask. First media was crushed walnut, later shifted to corncob. Could that be the culprit?
 

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Have you considered other sources of lead? Water is a likely place to check. Older houses with lead pipes or lead soldering. Did your doctor recommend any treatment?

H
 

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Discussion Starter #3
test the water

bigboyhf said:
Have you considered other sources of lead? Water is a likely place to check. Older houses with lead pipes or lead soldering. Did your doctor recommend any treatment?

H
Now that you mention it, he did suggest a water test, say first thing in the morning, after the water has sat in the pipes for a goodly amount of time. I will do this. Also going to do a radon test in the basement, since our new neighbors found a higher than acceptable level in their basement, and put an extraction system in.
He did not mention medical treatments, said that it would not stay elevated over long periods, so the fact that I used to cast my own lead soldiers back in the '50s, that would not be it. Used to melt it down right at the kitchen stove, then cast on the back porch :rolleyes:
 

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I got the same little surprise (a 19) on getting hired in the industrial battery business. It's fairly high, and I suggest you do some reading via Google on some of the negative health issues assosciated with a high lead level.

FWIW, while I was in the battery biz, I was in charge of sending everyone out, including myself, to be tested for lead and ZPP. I was fairly quickly able to drop my lead level while working around it daily just by diligent hand washing at every opportunity. We diassembled huge industrial battery cells, cast lead parts, and welded lead, etc, and it was really easy to gey my level down below a 9.
 

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I was the victim of high lead levels several years ago. I was shooting at an indoor range and spent 4 of 7 days at the range in 3-4 hours sessions. We did many scenarios where we simulated a kill house, alley way, etc. (our shooting was forward of the firing line). I took a lead test and mine was quite elevated (the health region uses a different measurement here). It wasn't elevated enough to require chelation but the authorities directed me to abstain from shooting until they were able to conduct a complete investigation into the source. Their investigation led them to conclude that the range had been using incorrect filters for their ventilation system (unbeknownst to the owners because this had been contracted out to a local service) and that there needed to be an increase in the ventilation airflow. I quit shooting for 8 months and again tested after submiting myself to a monthly test in the preceeding months. Over time, my lead levels came down to normal levels and since then the range made all the necessary changes. I started going regularly and did a lead test after 2 months of substantial exposure to shooting and my levels were normal. I commend the range for taking the necessary steps to protect their members from lead exposure and they inform new shooters of the dangers of lead exposure.
 

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There has to be a fair amount of lead in the media, and the dust cloud you get when pouring or cleaning the brass. I'd do that outside and "down-wind".
Actually, I'd "bet" there's a "ton" of lead in that "cloud"...which is easy to breath in. :eek: I've read primers "account" for about 20-30% of the lead so even if you use plated bullets...same precautions.

I would wear gloves cleaning the gun since you'll have a mixture of liquid "lead", solvents depending on how you clean. Probably could enter your system through cuts or openings in your skin.

Of course, on the range, your bag, gun, ammo, mags, bench, etc all must have some lead so washing hands, not putting them in our mouth, eating, smoking, etc would be important.

As mentioned, I'd "google" and read up on it.
 

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I get my lead checked twice a year because of my exposure.
I have never been over 12 which is the high side of normal.
I generally load and shoot a thousand rounds a week when not on the range instructing which adds even more.
There is one thing I started doing years ago that I am anal about now.
*I wash my hands every time I leave the gun room or range and don't go near the kitchen without washing my hands.
You didn't mention if you smoke but that will do it if you have lead on your hands while smoking.
Irishlad has pointed out one of the least recognized lead exposures we reloaders have. That media is toxic! Do that in a well ventilated area!
When shooting, the lead comes from the lead styphnate in the primer and the base of the bullet. Shotguns shells are the worse (209 primers).
I shoot on an indoor range several times a week and we now have a 3 mph wind ALL the time but I pull a 3' fan or two behind my position for extra wind.
All the clothes you shoot in are contaminated and when you walk into the house you are spreading lead from you shoes etc...
I think the biggest thing that has kept my lead level low is the hand washing part and the extra fans on the indoor range. Other instructors who don't reload and shoot way less have higher levels. I know a guy who hit a 60 level and was put in the hospital with IVs and told he couldn't go near lead for 6 months. That would ruin life for me!
Gotta be the hands!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks!

Quit smoking 4 years ago, so that doesn't contribute. Haven't paid any attention to clothing or shoes, and probly my vehicle is contaminated. I think the media dust has to be the biggest risk factor for me, I need to clean that area up, use some of that recommended car polish when I use crushed walnut, to keep dust down (corncob doesn't seem to produce so much visible dust), take it outside when I pour into separator and separate, shovel up the old media i poured onto the gravel by the woodpile and take it to the dump in a sealed container (duuhh!!), maybe put on a mask while doing all this. I should settle on range clothing and stick to it, changing out when I get home, and buy a box of nitrile gloves to use while cleaning, I tend to slop the cleaner and BreakFree around pretty liberally. Maybe ditch my old cleaning rags, start with clean ones. Use the gloves once I start to reload, but I have to believe that inhaled dust is the big culprit. The inside of the vibrator bowl is coated with black film, not sure what to clean that with, or maybe best to leave it alone. Wish I had been tested before starting with the brass cleaning, but we shall see.
Thanks to all, some good info here! I'll check back in a couple of months after my next test.
 

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23??? a mere trifle. I got your score beat totally. Had one test come back at 117! Of course I'd also done some reloading the evening before and didn't carefully scrub my arms (where they drew blood) the morning of the test.

Yep, a little residue on my arm contaminated the draw and got the Dr. VERY excited. A retest showed me in the high 20's, no biggie. (at the time OSHA only got excited when you broke 40)

My point? When you go for a test like that, carefully clean where they're going to draw blood from, their little alcohol swabs don't do the job, they're just to steralize the area.

The other suggestions are good ones too. Wash your hands when done shooting, don't eat or drink while shooting. Wash out your mouth and nose when you're done shooting.

When reloading? do the same as while shooting...no eating/drinking while reloading, etc.
 

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Had my blood lead level checked for the first time back in July at my annual physical exam. It was 27. I was shocked as most of my shooting is outdoors, although I do shoot and reload lead bullets 99% of the time. I've started taking the precautions of wearing latex gloves when reloading, wearing a latex glove on my weak hand when shooting a revolver, and wearing a mask when I dump the brass/media from my tumbler. Will have it checked 6 mo's from original test.

A doctor I shoot with (Occupational Health specialty) said that level really isn't a problem, and doesn't surprise him at all for a high volume shooter.

Until I read this thread, I hadn't considered "lead poisoning" from any other household sources other than shooting.
 

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I don't think you need to go as far as latex gloves as long as you wash your hands before doing anything else. I see allot of residue on my fingers from FMJs as well but I wash before leaving the room.
 

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I've managed to keep my lead levels down by (as stated in another post) washing my hands prior to leaving the range, not eating or drinking while during my shooting session, keeping my shooting clothes separate and immediately washing them when I return to my home and setting aside a 2 pairs of boots that I use exclusively at the range. I also shower when I get home after a range session. I've seen, and I kid you not, a dude that shows up with full face gas mask (twin filters), safety goggles (not glasses) and what could easily be termed a biohazard suit:eek: . I'm sure he has his reasons but you should see the look on new shooters faces when they see him walk into the place:scratch: .
 

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Ed333 said:
Thanks to all, some good info here! I'll check back in a couple of months after my next test.
Looks like you and I have similar shooting habits. I also reload and cast my own bullets. I use walnut media and work in my garage. I usually open the large garage door by only a third at the bottom. I have blood panels done yearly and this year I had two done a couple months apart. My lead blood levels are normal. I always just wash up after, shooting, reloading or casting immediately.

I would have to say there must be some other lead source. I drink nothing but filtered water. The water here also has ammonia in it and other not so nice additives. So nothing but filtered water for me. Tastes and smells better also. Add a lime or lemon wedge. Wonderful.
 

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I had my lead level tested at my last checkup and came in at 8. Prior to the test I was concerned since I had not been checked before and shoot weekly at an indoor range and clean a pile of dirty guns on a regular basis.

My routine is to only shoot FMJ and/or clean ammo when I can afford it. I wash my hands before leaving the range. At home remembering to use gloves when cleaning and good wash up after is important as well and something I need to get better about.

I would think lead exposure risk increases dramatically when re-loading and using (and cleaning up after) ammo with exposed lead bullets. As other posters have stated, keeping hands, clothes, shoes and the like clean will limit the "personal" contamination after range outings. The environmental contamination at home from cleaning and reloading activities are more of a concern in my opinion.
 
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