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Getting the Lead out... of your body not the gun.

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Wes Lorenz
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Post by targetshooter_10x 4/4/2024, 3:41 pm

Greetings fellow shooters.

I had a recent physical and blood work done and found my blood lead levels were quite elevated. In the mid 20's compared to the 3.5 recommended. I was seeking some advice from others who have experienced similar issues in the past and what you did that helped reduce your levels without going without our sport.

For some background.
I am in my 50s, shoot competitively and/or practice approximately 10 times a month. Typical number of shots fired is about 150-250. Ammunition used is .22 rimfire and reloaded centerfire .32, .38, and .45. Pistols used are generally autoloaders. Locations range from indoor(in the winter) to outdoor (the rest of the year). I reload my own cartridges, and use a wet tumble for the brass, and reload with lead bullets, primers are a mix of CCI, Federal, Winchester. I also do some casting in an open garage with a fan blowing from behind.

Questions for those who have seen improvement:
What is your range hygiene? Wash hands, face, etc? What soap? Change of clothes, shoes? Wash laundry separately?
What is your workbench hygiene? Masks, Gloves, Plain Soap, D-lead soap, etc?
What treatments have you used? Chelation, Abstinence
What food supplements have you seen work (empirically or anecdotally)? Vitamin C, Iron, Garlic?

From what I have heard so far: Indoors is worse for you than outdoors, fingers near in your mouth is bad ( eating and smoking ), a change of clothes or at least a "designated shooting shirt / jacket" that gets put in it's own bag and washed at home. Wash your hands, arms, and face after shooting. Vitamin C and Garlic pills.

I'm hoping that asking this question sparks some good ideas for everyone to think about and helps us all "get the lead out". :-)

Cheers!
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Post by JHHolliday 4/4/2024, 5:03 pm

Target there is another thread on this topic that may be helpful:

https://www.bullseyeforum.net/t21041-indoor-range-lead-levels-concerns-opinions
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Post by popchevy 4/4/2024, 5:56 pm

For starters get your self a 3-M respirator with P-100 filters and WEAR it !Use lead wipes after you are done for the evening. It took a year to go from 33.? to 12.2 . Celation happens when you are over 50. Lots of vit C. Change clothes when you get home and shower.  My essential tremors have decreased but not gone away. I  will probably never shoot like I used to. 
Yes , this is serious.

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Post by Jwhelan939 4/4/2024, 7:24 pm

Reading this and the post that JH posted has me thinking I should get tested. I only shoot outside, I use d-lead wipes, and I always wear latex gloves when reloading. But still sounds like it’s better to test than not.

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Post by RodJ 4/4/2024, 9:36 pm

Outdoor shooting seems intuitively safer, but that is not necessarily true for atmospheric reasons. Building cavities and downwash effects (similar phenomena) can result in much higher local air pollutant concentrations than in the general ambient air. Those phenomena can occur around humans, too, including when a fan is blowing from behind. Picture an eddy on a river full of debris. I'd rather shoot indoors in a properly designed air handling system that moves air slowly enough to maintain laminar flow and prevent eddy effects. In addition, as the OP and others mention, there are myriad other ways to ingest lead.

Good luck getting your levels down and good on you for getting checked and caring!

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Post by mspingeld 4/4/2024, 9:41 pm

Mine was up to 42 at one point. As of last spring it was in the low teens. Changes: Wet rumbling vs. dry, basic hygiene i.e. washing hands, clothes in the hamper but I think the main thing that helped is wearing a mask when shooting indoors. I use disposable N95 by 3M, the ones with the vent.

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Post by paulj 4/4/2024, 11:36 pm

The indoor shooting is likely your biggest problem if you are shooting at a club range with poor ventilation.  Mine BLL has gone down from 15.4 in July to 5.7 last month.  During the summer I stopped shooting indoors and didn't resume indoor shooting until the airflow in our range was improved.  I have also worn a respirator and coveralls when shooting outdoors if the breeze is uncooperative.  I always wash my hands with dLead soap or wipes after shooting, gun cleaning or reloading.  I don't know where you are shooting indoors in the Seattle area but I'm going to guess that it's either Kenmore or West Seattle.  My observation is that the ventilation at Kenmore is pretty much nonexistent.  It appears they have a fan that extracts air from the bullet trap area but most of the inhaled lead comes from the primers and there wasn't any room ventilation that I could detect when I last visited.  I've never shot at West Seattle, but like many club ranges, it's very old and is likely to have very outdated ventilation.  The proper airflow for an indoor range is 40 fpm (feet per minute).

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Post by rburk 4/5/2024, 12:33 am

I've been shooting bullseye for about four years, and have managed to keep my lead levels in the single digits.  I will agree that indoor shooting is the highest potential for lead exposure.

All of my practice is indoor shooting, I limit it to no more than once a week.  I also go in with a plan to not waste time, I will train with 50 shots or so, takes about 30 to 40 min.

Immediately after leaving the range, I wash my hands with soap and water in the bathroom at the range.  When I get home, my clothes go immediately into the washing machine, with D-lead laundry detergent.  I go immediately to the shower, and use D-lead soap.  I do the same routine after an outdoor match.

I tried a 3m respirator once, model 9205, N-95, they have 20 packs at Home Depot.  If my lead levels rise, I would use a respirator for indoor shooting.

My level went from about 4.1 to 7.8 in a year.  I stopped indoor shooting for 40 days, and it dropped back down to 4.5.

You said you cast lead bullets.  I don't know how effective respirators are for bullet casting, but it might help to wear one.

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Post by popchevy 4/5/2024, 5:26 pm

I wasn told by a toxicologist that the n-95 filters were not good for lead particles,but I see they are working for some. The lead particles are too small and I was informed to use only the P-100.

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Post by SingleActionAndrew 4/5/2024, 7:46 pm

popchevy wrote:use only the P-100.

That's my understanding too 

This last year I shot much less but my level doubled. I also had stopped using my p100 mask. Back to using the mask. Was already showering with Dlead after shooting.
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Post by rburk 4/6/2024, 1:50 am

I think you both are right that P-100 respirators are what is needed for lead removal.  I only tried the N-95 one time, and it fit and I was able to shoot indoors with it on.  But I don't know if N-95 is effective for lead.  I will look into the P-100 respirators for future range use.

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Post by paulj 4/6/2024, 2:32 pm

Here's a LINK for a P100 respirator that is a lot more compact than the 3M respirator.  I don't care for the harness that it comes with so I adapted a 3M harness to mine.

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Post by Murph1911 4/7/2024, 8:13 am

When Mine was creeping up, I stopped helping clean at the indoor range and it slowly went down over time (about 2 years total) back down to almost zero.

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Post by popchevy 4/7/2024, 6:52 pm

Sweeping the dry floor with a broom is a very bad thing to do. You are just stirring it up. The dust is very tiny.

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Post by Wes Lorenz 4/7/2024, 10:53 pm

FYI,
The West Seattle range has been substantially upgraded and is most likely the cleanest indoor range in the US.
Kenmore has been upgraded also and is almost smoke free.

Wes

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Post by Founder 4/9/2024, 10:10 pm

I was either up to 38 or 48...enough that the state inquired about my employer while I was working at the State Capitol as a legislative staffer.

I never did the mask thing. I stopped dry tumbling brass, I used d-lead soap, and shot indoors less.

I'm down to 5.
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Post by straybrit 4/10/2024, 3:28 pm

Mine went down from 19 to 8 in 6 months. Only changes were wet tumbling the brass, wearing latex gloves reloading and started using coated bullets. I didn't try and measure the impact (if any) of the individual changes.

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Post by MarkThomas 4/11/2024, 6:28 pm

Hmmm.  I am a novice air pistol shooter.  I built a 7 meter range in the basement under my house.  The floor is rough rat proof cement and very dirty.  I cleaned it up a little before I started shooting.  I've shot about 7500 pellets so far, and was wondering about the lead.  I handle the pellets with bare hands loading the pistol, and I pick up the pellets bare handed that fall out of the 22 bullet trap stuffed with rags I am using.  Should I put on a surgical glove when I pick up the pellets that fall out of trap to be safe?  And should I have my doctor to include lead in my blood work?  Thanks.

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Post by Wobbley 4/11/2024, 6:51 pm

Just wash your hands. Use “D-lead” if you wish. And no drinking or eating until you do wash your hands.
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Post by MarkThomas 4/11/2024, 7:40 pm

OK, thanks Wobbley.  I'll remember to wash my hands after practicing.  

The new Steyr I bought is amazing.  The test target from the factory put 5 pellets inside the X ring at 10 meters.  So I know if I don't hit a 10 it's not the pistol's fault.  Olympic air pistol is my next, and probably last, 10 year project.  Thanks

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Post by popchevy 4/12/2024, 12:28 pm

Most of the lead we are exposed to comes from the powder and the primer. You should have very little exposure but still better safe than sorry.

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