Lead Bullet Questions
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:12 PM   #1
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Default Lead Bullet Questions

If you've been wondering why it seems like I know so little about firearms, it's because I don't. I have never fired, or even held a firearm before. I am 20 years old and I am in the "learning" phase. I want to get as much information I can before I shoot, or buy one. I have learned a ton since I joined here and I really appreciate everyone's help.

That being said, I've been reading online these past two days about lead bullets, and lead in general. I've been reading on how it can cause all these health problems, but then I think "If it's so dangerous, why does everyone use it?". I've heard some people say it's bad, and others say it's not bad. I don't know who to believe. I've figured to ask you guys because I would think you would know about this type of thing. I have some specific questions about the subject:

1. Does lead get into the air when a gun is fired? If so, what happens if I breathe it in?
2. If I touch the lead part of the bullet, will it cause problems? Or can I just wash it off and that's that?

I would really appreciate your help in clearing things up for me.
Thanks!

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Old 10-09-2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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Lead is a metal that your body mistakes for Calcium. It will deposit on the bones and lead to a fragile skeleton as well as organ failure.

I have been shooting for over 30 years and reloading for most of that. I have been casting lead bullets for about 25 years. I have my blood tested each year for lead levels and I have never gotten a level that even raises an eyebrow on the doctors.

Lead gets into your system by three ways
1. Injestion. You eat it. This is the most efficient way for your body to absorb lead, thus the most dangerous way. If you touch lead or lead residue (from cleaning the gun) wash your hands thoroughly in cold water with soap. I wash mine 2X after handling anything that may be contaminated with lead. Use cold water so your pores do not open allowing the lead into the pores.

2. Inhalation. You breathe it. When you shoot a gun with most ammunition there are two sources of airborne lead. The primer and the bullet. The most common priming compound is Lead Styphenate (bad). When the bullet is fired some lead is vaporized off the base (if there is exposed lead at the base) and some "may" become airborne from the sides or driving bands because of friction with the barrel. When shooting out doors there is generally enough breeze to dissipate the lead laden fumes before they can become a problem. Indoors can be a different story. Exercise caution when shooting at indoor ranges. Make sure they have sufficient ventillation.

3. Absorption. It leaches through the skin. This is a slow and difficult process because the lead molecule is rather large and does not pass through the skin easily. You would probably have to roll about in lead dust, naked and leave it on your skin for 12-24 hours to get any absorption at all.

If you exercise some common sense precautions during handling and immediately after, you should never have a problem with lead poisoning.

I have only met one person who was treated for lead poisoning from gun fire/ ammo. She was a world champion PPC shooter who shot thousands of rounds of unjacketed .38 ammo every month in an indoor range. She reloaded thousands of rounds each month. She was a police range instructor who was exposed to tens of thousands of rounds a month at an indoor range. Her exposure was many times (perhaps hundres of times) larger than the average shooter.

In a nutshell - wash your hands, don't smoke and don't roll around naked in lead dust.

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Old 10-09-2009, 10:25 PM   #3
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To robocop10mm: Wow. That's a great answer. Thank You for that valuable information. That's like the clearest way i've heard someone explain it.

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Old 11-12-2010, 03:26 AM   #4
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Wow, times twenty two! Just plain great!

I've been smelting, casting and reloading and shooting lead since the mid '50's with no ill effects--much of the negative hype is unfounded. An adult need not worry, just keep the small people in their formative years away.

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