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Fri Dec 28, 2012, 12:29 PM

 

Lead problems, Gunners, and mental health

I was listening to a guy this morning showing a casual link between shooters and their mental health, and the possibility of lead poisoning and the affects on the brain. This article really doesn't address his concern, that there maybe a link between people who go crazy and people who handle a lot of lead laden bullets, maybe breathing in lead while shooting. We do have warnings at the gas pumps, so it isn't all that far fetched. Veterans for example were exposed to tons of gun smoke in the field.

Anyway, I wouldn't say this causes a crazy shooter, but there are people who are questioning it.

Now to shooting. Yes there are lead compounds (not pure lead) in the primers. These compounds will have a lead-poisoning effect on you but it is not as serious as pure lead. There are a number of different ways in which lead dust and fume originates at ranges. These include; primers using lead styphnate as a detonator, and the vaporization and splintering of the projectile as it passes through the weapon after being fired (NIOSH 1975) as well as vaporization of the base of the bullet. Studies by researches from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) measured air lead levels in the breathing zones of 90 persons firing .38-caliber revolvers. Shooters firing lead bullets had mean lead exposures of 110 gglm3, calculated as an 8 hour time weighted average (TWA). 89 percent of the recorded exposures exceeded the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) permissible exposure level (PEL) of 50 gg/m3 for occupational exposure to lead (Lee 1986). Although most indoor firing ranges are not subject to OSHA standards, lead exposures should and can be maintained below levels of concern for protection of human health. The question raised is was the lead due to the primers or the bullets or what percentage of each?

more

http://dfuse.us/lead.html

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Reply Lead problems, Gunners, and mental health (Original post)
shintao Dec 2012 OP
Ibisa Dec 2012 #1
intaglio Dec 2012 #2
IDemo Dec 2012 #3

Response to shintao (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 01:03 PM

1. Lead exposures

I am a competitive shooter, so I have personal experience and my own research conclusions that I can share, but not quantifiable percentages or anything.

The lead exposure seems to be most linked to breathing in the vapors. People warn to wash your hands and separate your clothes, etc, but my exposure was only after repeated, long time exposures on a range with poor ventilation. I think there are a small percentage of ranges that have grandfathered equipment. All newer ranges that I have seen are well-ventilated.

I had tested with a level of 24mcg/dL, which is pretty high. This was after a bunch of long weekends in a group with indoor training and a lot of vapor exposure (we spent time in the downrange area where the smoke can accumulate). Some of the competitors reload and use unjacketed bullets, so I think that doesn't help. Even with a reading of 24mcg/dL, my worst possible symptoms that I may be able to attribute to it were more frequent headaches (I get headaches anyway) and perhaps increased irritability. I never had thoughts of physically harming people or other strange behavior. Casual shooters will have much lower exposures than me, so I can't imagine that it is the best place to look for widespread issues anyway. There could be some isolated cases, I guess.

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Response to shintao (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 01:43 PM

2. Can't find the reference but

... there was something in New Scientist about 12 - 15 years ago.

Plus there is also the ongoing problem of lead in shot poisoning water fowl

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Response to shintao (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 01:48 PM

3. I've done extensive soldering on the job over the past 20 years

And not with lead-free solder, since RoHS isn't required in an R&D environment. It will be interesting to see how that affects.....hmm....forgot what I was going to say.

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