Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum
Max Payne

Lead Level in Blood - What's Acceptable?

Recommended Posts

I got my blood checked for lead level, mainly due to me reloading 800 bullets or so weekly. And, I'm guessing that Ophelia & I shoot close to 50 matches yearly. I do wear Harbor Freight gloves when reloading & when cleaning guns. And, I use mostly poly coated bullets, which would hopefully lower the risk.

 

My level was "21". The nurse said "this is an acceptable level, but we don't want it to go any higher". I asked her to describe the levels as far as what is too high & so forth, & she said she'd have to check with my doctor & get back to me. I expect her to call sometime this afternoon, but I'm betting some of you smart cowboys already have a good knowledge of this topic.

 

If you don't mind, educate me/us, please. And, how would one go about lowering the level short of cutting back on shooting & reloading?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Check with roger rapid, he has all the information you need.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mine peaked at 36 last year Max, then dropped to 34.  I had it checked a few weeks ago. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Max, there have been several discussions here in the last few years.  The Search function on here is not good, but if you Google this:

Sassnet.com blood lead level

it will give you a number of threads.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mine was 17 a couple of years ago- the CDC sent me a letter0 bunch of questions about what I'd been doing- a friend told me to start taking more vitamin c- I now take 2000 mg of vitamin c- every day-my lead was down to 7 6 months ago, I moved the brass polisher out to the garage and only run it with the door open- gloves, facemask, when cleaning brass- I wear a bandana over my face while operating the timer-poly coated bullets, well ventilated loading room. I think the vitamin c is working- good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are 3 Standards for acceptable lead levels:

* Your doctor ... not to exceed 10  µg per deciliter of blood (µg/dL),

 

* State Health departments .... not to exceed 12  µg per deciliter of blood (µg/dL),  After my annual blood test of  12  µg per deciliter, I once  got  telephone call from our  NJ Health Dept and guy on the phone started to interrogate me.  I told him, NOYFB ... and hung up

 

* OSHA ...  OSHA established its standard for lead in general industry in 1978. Construction workers were not covered until 1993 when OSHA set a separate standard for construction. The PEL in both standards remains unchanged since promulgation—50 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air (µg/m3), averaged over an 8-hour workday. This limit was set so that workers’ blood lead levels (BLLs) would not exceed 40 µg per deciliter of blood (µg/dL), a level once found by OSHA to adequately protect workers from adverse health effects.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had mine checked as result from reading threads here on wire. My Dr. checks my blood regularly so I asked him to check lead level. First time was 36. Three months later it was 34 then in another three months it was down to 26. Doctor was still ballistic about it. I told him different things that I had been doing to get it down. He said I wasn't doing enough so I asked him what was a guideline and where should it be if precautions were taken. His response was that I was first person he had dealt with that had high lead levels. I've been careful washing hands after loading and handling guns. I do not wear gloves when reloading and will not. I wear my bandana while doing TO. I wet tumble my brass and take several things recommended to me by other cowboys that helped them. I get my blood checked again in August. Hopefully it is still coming down.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used Spirulina with good results.  It contains a "natural chelator." 

Another option is to donate blood, which removes some lead.

The real problem is the blood level is one aspect of the problem, but that is in other tissues, liver, bone, brain, and it is more difficult to measure, as you would suspect.

Some ignore it, saying that they feel fine, even with a higher level, but then they get neuropathy, impotence, and other issues, when it is much more difficult to treat successfuly, even with major chelators.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

Max, there have been several discussions here in the last few years.  The Search function on here is not good, but if you Google this:

Sassnet.com blood lead level

it will give you a number of threads.

Thanks, Abilene. I did a search, but I guess not correctly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Max

 

No one agreed number, except that, since lead accumulates in your blood,  all are very concerned with even low single digit numbers in young children. John Boy and Sedalia Dave have given you the scoop. Mine reached 33 about 2 years back- and that with wearing latex gloves while reloading and cleaning guns, and wet tumbling to avoid inhalation of lead dust.  I now have it down to 10 (my Doc would like it under 10), the reduction attributable principally to refraining from running the timer.  Have also concentrated even more on not touching food (or mouth/nose/eyes) during or after shooting without washing my hands vigorously, usually with De-Lead:

 

Lead comes into your system through inhalation; ingestion and to a lesser extent, absorption through skin.  Don’t handle primers barehanded-I put on the gloves to transfer rounds to my loading strips for that reason.  Others have followed other regimes but you can take these steps first and I think you’ll see some significant improvement over the next year or so.  Check your BLL every 3 months or so till you get it where you want it.  Best wishes,

 

Cass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My lead levels are up & down, I do the normal things that shooters do  [ casting, loading tumbling etc ] , I do not take anything for granted & try to be as  careful as I can without being paranoid..it is what it is...I have no intention of giving up shooting !!!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a SASS thread I found...

I donate blood at Red Cross blood drives every 2 months, as mentioned above, but I don't know if that helps. When I go in for my yearly physical, I request my lead levels be checked every 2 years. Last year it was below 10.

 

RRR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Being new to the game, I asked my doctor to order a blood test for lead so I have a baseline.

The lab FREAKED OUT.
They rang the bells and sirens, demanded OSHA contacts... ad naseum.
Doc had to calm them down, and tell the lab I was a hobbyist in contact with lead, and not a working environment.

Guess which state I live in...

Edited by bgavin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Cassalong Hopidy said:

Max

 

No one agreed number, except that, since lead accumulates in your blood,  all are very concerned with even low single digit numbers in young children. John Boy and Sedalia Dave have given you the scoop. Mine reached 33 about 2 years back- and that with wearing latex gloves while reloading and cleaning guns, and wet tumbling to avoid inhalation of lead dust.  I now have it down to 10 (my Doc would like it under 10), the reduction attributable principally to refraining from running the timer.  Have also concentrated even more on not touching food (or mouth/nose/eyes) during or after shooting without washing my hands vigorously, usually with De-Lead:

 

Lead comes into your system through inhalation; ingestion and to a lesser extent, absorption through skin.  Don’t handle primers barehanded-I put on the gloves to transfer rounds to my loading strips for that reason.  Others have followed other regimes but you can take these steps first and I think you’ll see some significant improvement over the next year or so.  Check your BLL every 3 months or so till you get it where you want it.  Best wishes,

 

Cass

 

I used to wash my hands before eating anything at the range but my BLL kept getting higher.

Then I found D-Lead soap.

Did you know regular soap doesn't remove heavy metals (lead) from your hands?

My lead count went from 24 to 10 in eight weeks. I give a lot of credit to D-Lead.

 

I like what Cass said "Check your BLL every 3 months or so till you get it where you want it."

I will add to that "then never get it checked again".

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm pushing 80 - I don't get mine checked any more ....

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wrote an article for Adventure Sports Outdoors about blood lead levels in the shooting sports and how it gets ingested. It started with a routine blood check in May 2019 for glucose and triglycerides, when I asked them to check my lead.

 

In ug/dl, I was a 7.9. 

The maximum safe level is 4.9 and under.

At a 10, the Department of Public Health must be notified.

 

I changed a lot of bad habits, and switched to wet tumbling, and did more research.

 

As of a couple of weeks ago, my blood lead level had decreased to 5.1.

 

The biggest culprit was lead from PRIMERS as the round was fired. Primers are made of shock sensitive lead based compounds. They used to be mercury based compounds, but switched to lead for "safety." If you are a CSI fan, this is known as GSR, or gunshot residue. A cloud of tiny particles of lead dust, 3 to five feet around the shooter.

 

Have a snack at the range, rub your eyes, nose mouth and you are in the club. Lead bullets and unfired primers really didn't affect levels like the presence of GSR.

I don't know why. Perhaps when you are handling bullets you are more conscious of lead and wash up before eating.

 

Shoot at an indoor range? Does it have good ventilation that draws the GSR away from the shooters?

 

And then we take the brass home to reload. And that brass is covered in lead residue. Please handle it appropriately. If you want to wear gloves, this would be the place. I de-prime before tumbling and wear gloves.

 

So stay upwind and glove up before you are up to your brass in lead.:rolleyes:

 

  • Thanks 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

D lead is great.

 

A lot of a shooters lead exposure is from discharged primers which most still use lead styphnate. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was up to 23 6 years ago when I worked part time at a gun shop/indoor range. After I quit I went dow to 16, then 12 last time I got it checked was 6 months ago and it was 10. I don't use gloves or wear a mask when I reload.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've seen many who need to get the lead out'a their a$$.

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Lawdog Dago Dom said:

Lead bullets and unfired primers really didn't affect levels like the presence of GSR.

I don't know why.

 

GunShotResidue is airborne.   Very finely divided lead oxides and carbonates.   Easily inhaled, and lungs are an easy way for lead to get into body quickly.  Also the finest lead particulate from target splatter goes airborne.  Look closely at shotgun targets as they are shot, and you see a fine gray cloud around them for a few seconds after the impacts.  

 

And, GSR is removed from fired cases by any brass cleaning technique.   If vibrating, it's in the media unless you take extra steps to capture it.  If wet tumbling, it's in the liquid.   If not cleaning your brass, then it's still sticking outside and inside the fired cases when you load them.

 

Lead bullets don't create airborne lead - very hard to get metallic lead into body (unless it was shot at high speed).  A small amount of lead COULD be transferred from fingers to mouth to stomach if you don't wash hands. (where stomach acid dissolves the lead, and dumps it into your blood stream).   Casting bullets creates VERY little airborne lead - the liquid lead alloy is never hot enough to generate vapor of any significant amount, so if you take care with the casting dross and dispose of it carefully, there's little contamination.

 

Unfired primers - folks don't handle them directly much anymore with primer flippers and feed tubes on loaders.  Really a minimal path for lead contamination.

 

Concentrate on the pathways that are prevalent and possible to intake into the body.   Then control those exposures.    

 

Good luck, and good handling habits, GJ

 

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Much appreciated to all who provided this excellent feedback. I have always worn Harbor Freight Gloves when reloading, cleaning guns, & wet-tumbling brass. I always wash my hands with D-Lead & have for a long time now. I use poly-coated bullets, except for a very few exceptions. I haven't run the timer more than a few times since I started shooting CAS 7 1/2 years ago, because my hearing was really, really bad & therefore I wasn't the 1st choice for TO. This has changed recently because I got dual Cochlear implants, & I have no problem running the timer.

 

In light of all I read above, I'm surprised that my level is at 21 when I've always practiced most of the suggestions above. I'm going to read back thru a few times & see what I can add, plus getting checked again in maybe 3 months to see what's happening.

 

Again, thanks to all! And, Cass I hope your hip rebuilds are going well & look forward to shooting together again.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our mentor was having high lead issues as well.
He attributes it to being the TO and close proximity to the GSR.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/9/2020 at 11:50 AM, Max Payne said:

 

I do wear Harbor Freight gloves when reloading & when cleaning guns.

The dust is a bigger issue than skin absorption. Gloves are good, just don't lick the dust off of them.

23 hours ago, Waimea said:

 

I used to wash my hands before eating anything at the range but my BLL kept getting higher.

Then I found D-Lead soap.

Did you know regular soap doesn't remove heavy metals (lead) from your hands?

Cold water helps shed lead and other compounds from firearms off the skin, hot water helps them get into the body.

 

So, soap and cold water first for the gun chems, then more soap and hot water for germs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Max 

Sounds like you got a bunch of the bases covered.

Has Ophelia gotten tested?

If so, what's her BLL number?

What are you doing differently than her?

Let's talk at BG.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can try some of the new lead free primers.  Not easy to come by, but they are available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We have a seven-page white paper on BLL entitled "Controlling Blood Lead Levels" (for shooters) available for a free download under "Documents/Papers" on our website at: www.PRVCatLazyArrow.com. (This document is now being used by several law enforcement agencies.)

 

As GJ pointed out, the greatest exposure to lead particulate is when shooting, and especially with revolvers where there is a rather large cloud of lead particulate around a pistol when fired. TOs are especially prone to inhaling excessive amounts of lead particulate because of their proximity to numerous shooters. The body has several types of skin; the skin on your palm and inner facings of your fingers is referred to as "glabrous" skin and has very few open pores and no hair follicles, so absorption through the skin when reloading is minimal. The danger with lead on your hands comes when you are reloading or shooting and you pull something to eat out of its wrapper and transfer lead particulate directly to the food you are eating. Carelessly opening a bottle of water and rubbing lead around the mouth of the bottle before putting it to your lips is another dangerous practice. Smoking while at the range is another way to transfer lead from your fingers to he tip of your cigarette and then to your mouth. Inhalation and ingestion are two prominent methods of lead introduction to the body. Absorption through the skin is virtually zero.

 

As previously noted, spirulina (especially the Hawaiian version) is not only a great herb, but is a super chelation (metal removal) agent and is far more enjoyable and easier on your body than any of the scripted drugs for lead removal. My wife and I both take a teaspoon of spirulina a day in our protein drink. Five years ago, my BLL (blood lead level) was 18.5mg/dl (18.5 milligrams per deciliter), it is now 7.5mg/dl and I have not changed my shooting or gun handling practices. Cilantro and chlorella are two other natural chelation agents (but spirulina is more effective.) I know of at least a dozen folks in our four sister clubs who have taken spirulina and successfully reduced their BLL.

 

As noted previously, most doctors and hematologists aim for a BLL of less than 5mg/dl. Greater than 10mg/dl and the lab must report it to the Board of Health (so you'll most likely get a letter and some pamphlet's in the mail).

 

What's too high? As you have already read, there is a wide disparity of opinions, but most professionals feel that anything over 10-12mg/dl is not good.

 

What does it cause? My life-long friend is a neurologist and he says there's an array of neurological issues that include things like memory loss, tingling in the fingers, muscle pains, joint pains, twitches, etc., and in each case folks with these symptoms often are found to have high BLL levels.

 

Donating blood? Check with your agency before donating blood. If you - and they - know you have elevated BLL, they may not accept you as a plasma donor. (Lots of studies on this - Google it if you're interested.)

 

How to reduce BLL? Masks and bandanas will help (and I think the coronavirus mandates will help to reduce BLL in cowboy shooters - if the virus doesn't come and get us first!!!!). Washing your hands thoroughly, and using D-Lead soap where available, is a very important thing to do when finished shooting - especially before you eat. Not touching bottle tips, and holding food by the wrapper rather than touching the food is very important. Washing your cowboy clothes regularly - especially your shirt - is very important to not introducing lead particulate to your house and other clothes.

 

Be healthy please....

 

RR

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used Roger Rapid's guide to help reduce my lead levels last year. I suspect I get my largest continuous exposures if I'm camped at a shoot for a few days and don't shower every day. There is often a lot of dust blowing around too, and camping near the range might increase my inhalation.

 

In addition to the things already mentioned, I also wash my cowboy clothes with D-Lead laundry soap (they go straight in the washer when I get home from a shoot). I also got some D-Lead body wash for the initial scrub in the shower.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At a match today, there was hand sanitizer (both gel and liquid spray) at each unloading table.  Made me wonder if the hand sanitizer could help remove lead as well?  Keeping in mind, of course, that the hands would have to be wiped dry with paper towels or such.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I am at the VA hospital a lot the last few years.

Mostly for skin cancer removal (21 since May a year ago) and some other thngs. (none life threating so far)

 

Anyway, I was a commercial FFL ammunition manufacturer and reloader for cas.

I asked to have my BLL checked once.

I thought the world was coming to and end the way they acted.

They notified CAlifornai Health Deptment on me.

I recieved a very strange letter.

Basically saying I had to stop what ever I was doing at once.

 

Seems I had high levels by their standards.

I did a lot of research at the time before responding to their letter.

Turns out everyone was over excited because I was over the CDC 10 or 12 level.

My research turned up that this level is a not to exceed for 12 year old kids and pregnant women.

I found the OSHA information and mailed it to the California Health Department people.

Told them they needed to read actual BLL established for weorking and hobby people handling lead.

NEver heard back.

The VA lab peoiple appearently got a letter from the California Health department because the Lad manager found me when I was there and appoligized for cauysing such a mess without talking to me before they reactede.

 

I was at 23.

I loaded 6 days a week and I casty almost all the bullets I used in the process.

(I hand loaded +- 462,000 rounds a year (on Dillon 650s) and about 3000 shotgun/month on MEC 9000)

No gloves, No mask.

I did not touch my face, eat, answer the phone or gop to the bathroom with out first washing with sopa and water.

 

There are drugs the doctors will prescribe to remove lead.

But be sure to read up on thembefore taking.

Some require you to not handle lead again for up to 4 or 5 years because it not only removes lead but makis it 10 times easier for lead to get in to your body.

 

Your number one method of reducing BLL is hygiene. Wash, wash and wash,.

Soap and cold water.

Hot or warm water opens your pours and allows more lead to enter.

 

Edited by Cliff Hanger #3720LR

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spirolina works great, but it will also remove vitamins and other minerals from your system. If you use it you should take a multi vitamin daily. I take a vitamin in the morning and spirolina at nite. I also use cilantro for seasoning frequently. I had my lead level tested and it was 31, the Dr. told me I had to quit shooting. He never suggested any method to reduce the level. At about that time Chicken George was posting about elevated lead levels and ways to reduce it. I started with the spirolina and cilantro and in 6 weeks the level dropped to 24. During that period of time I had at least a 2 day shoot every weekend. 

  I went to Tucson for a consult and they asked me all the usual questions and told me I was doing the right things and to get it checked again in a year. They did stress the fact that if a chelating agent is used a multi vitamin must be taken.

kR

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another consideration... If you are losing weight (fat), your lead levels will test higher during that process. Conversely, if you are gaining fat, your blood level will drop. Same for mercury and other metals, along with drug residual compounds and some other "markers" of an unstable body mass.

 

So if you just dropped a few belt sizes, a bunch of test results will be affected.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ophelia & I have been gone since a week ago Sunday doing a little camping & competing at Black Gold.

 

I wasn't keeping up with this thread.

 

What a great collection of information!! My doctor seemed to be woefully uninformed. When buddies I shoot with talked about their blood levels, I decided to get mine checked. My doctor said I was the first to ask for a lead test, & I had to ask a few times before he figured out how to do it. When it came back at 21, the nurse came in & said "It's okay at 21, but we don't want it to go any higher". I asked her to educate me on what was a good benchmark, & everything I needed to know. She said she didn't know anything about it, but would get with my doctor & call me back, which she didn't. That's when I went to this forum & got my usual complete info with appropriate perspectives from knowledgeable sources.

 

I printed most of this for further study. Thanks again to everyone who responded.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just to add a little info.  My lead tested at 36 a little over a year ago.  I started being a bit more careful and checked it a few months later and it was 34.  I kept it up, plus unfortunately didn't shoot much in April and May, and my June test came back at 25.  I've just lost 20 pounds, so that probably elevated it a bit.  Now I'm adding spirulina 3 grams a day as well as garlic 2 grams a day (yes I take a multivitamin) and hopefully when I have it tested again next year it will be much lower. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.