Guns and Lead Poisoning

You’ve taken the gun safety program. You always lock your guns and ammo away for safety and know how to safety handle firearms.
There’s still one issue, however, that you might not have been aware of.

Most bullets are made of lead and lead can result in lead poisoning. The problem is that every time you fire your weapon a certain amount of lead vapor is released into the air. When fired, bullets are subjected to very high temperatures and all unjacketed bullets will release lead vapor.

When firing outdoors, the amount of lead vapor that you might ingest is minimal but when you are firing at a firing range or when you are casting your own bullets that exposure may climb to unhealthy levels that can lead to lead poisioning.

Ingestion isn’t only through the lungs either. Lead vapor will slowly settle and can coat everything around. When you pick up the rifle cover that’s been sitting on the floor the whole time you could be covering your hands with it and then ingesting it through your mouth, nose or eyes as you wipe your face or handle food.

Safety tips to protect from lead poisoning from firearms:

1. Keep food away from where you are firing, especially when firing indoors
2. Use copper-covered bullets whenever possible.
3. Wipe down your equipment and bags with a wet wipe when done shooting (“wet” to keep the lead from just going back into the air) and dispose of the wipe in sealed baggie.
4. If you are going to fire indoors make sure that the ventilation system is not recycling the air but rather bringing in only fresh air.
5. Do not smoke or chew gum while shooting
6. Change your clothes right after you’re done shooting
7. If you shoot often, have your lead levels tested

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