Blood lead levels

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Blood lead levels

Post by estuck on 3/3/2016, 8:27 am

I have been doing quite a bit of indoor shooting this winter (approximately 3 x a week) at a variety of different ranges. Some with very poor ventilation.  Had my lead levels checked for the first time. Results were at 39.  After consulting with other shooters in my leagues I am now using a half face respirator, using Dlead wipes after shooting, and taking more precautions during reloading. Am considering trying coated bullets as my range does not allow jacketed.  Does anyone have experience with them, or advice on the lead issue?

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by mspingeld on 3/3/2016, 8:33 am

Yes! Similar story. Mine was up to 44. Now in the low teens. I wear a mask when shooting indoors and on windless days indoors. (3M model 9211, not too expensive on Amazon). I also wash thoroughly after shooting and reloading. I went to wet tumbling instead of dry since there was a lot of airborne dust with the dry tumbling. The wet tumbling does a superior job on the brass.

Without further exposure, your blood lead should drop in half every 30 days or so, however, getting below 10 might not happen. Lead is stored in the bones for decades and constantly seeps into the blood. Under 20 is considered "normal" and acceptable in adults.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by estuck on 3/3/2016, 8:46 am

I am to get retested at the end of the month.  Also got a phone call from my county health department basically inquiring about the source of my exposure, and giving me advice on precautions, etc.. I was also advised I would be contacted by my state health dept.. I am currently loading 185gr lead swchp from Zero. Was going to switch to coated bullets from Missouri for indoors, but am looking for feedback first.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by BE Mike on 3/3/2016, 8:56 am

estuck wrote:I have been doing quite a bit of indoor shooting this winter (approximately 3 x a week) at a variety of different ranges. Some with very poor ventilation.  Had my lead levels checked for the first time. Results were at 39.  After consulting with other shooters in my leagues I am now using a half face respirator, using Dlead wipes after shooting, and taking more precautions during reloading. Am considering trying coated bullets as my range does not allow jacketed.  Does anyone have experience with them, or advice on the lead issue?
I think you are taking adequate precautions. If you dry tumble brass, you might want to use your respirator then, as well. I keep DLead wipes on my reloading bench and the DLead soap in my bathroom. If you are shooting at a metal plate backstop, the lead dust will be pretty great when you go down to score. Unless other folks are using coated or lead free bullets, your using them would be a drop in the bucket. If you help clean up, i.e. sweep, at the range, you should also use your mask then.
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by fc60 on 3/3/2016, 10:27 am

Greetings,

Another element to watch for is Barium.

I had a heavy metals test done and, naturally, Lead, Antimony, and Tin were elevated. Also on the high side was Barium. The Doctor was puzzled as to how I ingested this element.

A lot of emails to Federal regarding an MSDS for their 22lr ammo resulted in a reply stating that they use Barium Styphnate and Lead Styphnate in the priming mix.

Something to be aware of.

Cheers,

Dave

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by SteveT on 3/3/2016, 10:54 am

I don't think switching to coated bullets will significantly reduce your lead exposure if that is the only thing you do. There may be some lead getting into the air from the back of the bullet, but most of it comes from the Lead Styphnate in the primer.

Assuming you are not eating or smoking until after you wash your hands, IMO the single most effective thing you can do is wear a respirator rated at least N95 (N100 or P100 is better).
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by mspingeld on 3/3/2016, 10:58 am

When I first found out I went to the Bellevue/NYU Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic in New York. (guess I kind of panicked).

They test different masks for efficacy and the 3M, 9211 tested well. Also more comfortable than the respirator.

They said the N95 was sufficient as the particles we're concerned with are not particularly small and there is no oil involved.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by estuck on 3/3/2016, 1:06 pm

I went with the 3M 6000 respirator with the 2097 P100 filters. I called 3M and asked the technical people if this was the right mask for our application. I was told it was. However the 9211 may fit better and easier to store in your shooting bag. I shot with the respirator for the first time the other night. Lets just say it is different. Just takes a little time to get used to. But better than not shooting at all Right?

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by mspingeld on 3/3/2016, 1:07 pm

Right. It's a little warm with the mask but bearable. Have to make sure the fit over the nose is good or glasses will fog. I've used the mask plenty of times, not a big problem.

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Airborne Lead

Post by Richard Ashmore on 3/3/2016, 2:33 pm

estuck wrote: Am considering trying coated bullets as my range does not allow jacketed.  Does anyone have experience with them, or advice on the lead issue?

  Most airborne lead comes from the primer, so coated bullets won't help much, if at all.  If the range ventilation isn't up to code you'll need respiratory protection.
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by JayhawkNavy02 on 3/3/2016, 2:37 pm

Is there any value in wearing rubber gloves while reloading or is is just as effective or nearly so to just wash your hands when done?
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by mspingeld on 3/3/2016, 2:39 pm

Doc said lead isn't absorbed through the skin (unless traveling at 750 fps).

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Airborne Lead

Post by Richard Ashmore on 3/3/2016, 2:49 pm

JayhawkNavy02 wrote:Is there any value in wearing rubber gloves while reloading or is is just as effective or nearly so to just wash your hands when done?

  Normal hygiene should do just fine.  Stay away from your tumbler when it's operating, wash your hands when you're done shooting/reloading and you'll be fine.
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Jon Eulette on 3/3/2016, 4:20 pm

I think some people are more susceptible than others. I've been doing this a long time and my lead levels have always been extremely low. I didn't take any extra precautions until I recently started wearing latex gloves when reloading.......makes wife happy :p)
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by jglenn21 on 3/3/2016, 5:21 pm

Heard that Jon

I do the latex gloves and D-lead soap thing to keep mine happy
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Wobbley on 3/3/2016, 9:30 pm

JayhawkNavy02 wrote:Is there any value in wearing rubber gloves while reloading or is is just as effective or nearly so to just wash your hands when done?
Some.  The real issue with not wearing gloves is that the metals get in to places that can be hard to get clean.  With gloves you clean up quickly with their removal.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Axehandle on 3/4/2016, 6:46 am

Personally have spent the last three years working 20-40 hours on an indoor range as RSO and instructor. Shoot at least 30K rounds a year inside.  Load a bunch of commercially cast bullets, cast and size a few of my own.   Major down range cleanup weekly wearing a mask.  Lead is tested quarterly.  Has always been single digit.  FWIW when your lead number breaches specific thresholds I understand your doctor is required to report it to government entities that feed the info to OSHA. OSHA feeds info to EPA and bad things happen.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by estuck on 3/4/2016, 5:45 pm

All of the ranges I shoot at are private clubs.  Does anyone have knowledge or experience with any government entities investigating lead exposures at private ranges and attempting to shut them down ? I feel the exposure is voluntary and as such is up to me to deal with.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Rob Kovach on 3/4/2016, 6:33 pm

Government investigations and medical professionals reporting high lead levels is a thing. Many state health departments comply with the reporting requirements.

I haven't heard of the government using the exposure from a private gun range to close it down.

I have heard of a range that the owners shut down after a number of their junior shooters tested high and went through the government reporting protocol.
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Blood Lead

Post by Richard Ashmore on 3/5/2016, 6:32 am

estuck wrote:All of the ranges I shoot at are private clubs.  Does anyone have knowledge or experience with any government entities investigating lead exposures at private ranges and attempting to shut them down ? I feel the exposure is voluntary and as such is up to me to deal with.

  Factors that prompted my club to get the range ventilation up to code included members with occupational exposure to airborne lead.  They had to be tested regularly, and their levels were causing difficulties where they work.  The final driver was the state requiring a blood lead test for children entering school.  We didn't want any of our juniors having a problem that was related to shooting at my club.
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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Gunsnjeeps on 3/5/2016, 10:48 pm

I don't have my levels on hand but range ventilation goes a long way in protecting you. I was in a work related lead surveillance program and showed no changes over that time. Most of what I shot was .22 LR and cast .45 ACP. I didn't do any casting though. You can feel the air move at our indoor range. I have shot in indoor ranges where it didn't seem like there was any air flow and the smoke hung around you. The old RTC San Diego range had cleaner air leaving it than entering it.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by LenV on 3/6/2016, 12:51 pm

When this topic was discussed in 2014 on this forum I decided to have my blood tested. The VA doesn't do a lead test so I had to have it done outa pocket. Except for piece of mind it was a waste of money. I don't wear gloves when I load or a mask when I shoot and still had single digit count. I also found out at the time that lead levels are not very important for my generation. It is way more important to those still planning on having kids. The only downside to all this testing at ranges is now one of my favorite indoor ranges won't let us drink coffee or have our doughnuts in the waiting room. Now that sucks.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by KenO on 3/6/2016, 7:25 pm

I've casted most my life. I was shooting indoors during the winter, at a poorly ventilated range, and when I came home and blew my nose, it was all black. I decided to have my lead level checked.  It was very high. I was shooting  in two leagues/nights a week.

I got contacted by the state (Michigan) asking a lot of questions. I only told them about casting, but I knew it was the indoor shooting.'

I quit the indoor stuff, and a year later it dropped way down into the normal range, even though I continued to cast.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by mspingeld on 3/6/2016, 7:31 pm

In my personal experience, plus talking to other shooters, the biggest culprit is shooting indoors in poorly ventilated ranges followed by the dust released when emptying brass and media from a dry tumbler. @Axehandle, I'm glad you never had an issue. I am assuming the ventilation system in your range is better than many. I will continue to wear a mask whenever shooting indoors. The 3M model 9211 masks are not too expensive and are fairly comfortable and my blood level stays reasonably low if I wear it consistently.

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Re: Blood lead levels

Post by Toz35m on 3/6/2016, 9:10 pm

Be aware of what you touch on your body when shooting and reloading. There are parts of your body which can absorb lead easier. Do not eat, touch anything around your face and also wash your hands before you use the restroom. 

If you have a beard or mustache you should also give it a rinse before eating.
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Re: Blood lead levels

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