Discovering news stories about elevated levels of lead in Americans is not hard to find. If you google “elevated levels of lead” as a search term there are numerous articles—even over the past few months. Of course, lead was ubiquitous, as an ingredient in gasoline, paint and other products for years and for that matter, millennia. One theory has it, that lead, which was used in cooking and drinking vessels was a cause of the Roman Empire’s decline.
It’s still not a desirable thing to encounter in an intimate way.
Chronic exposure at elevated levels, for both children and adults, increases the risk of hypertension, kidney disease, cognitive dysfunction, and adverse reproductive outcomes, according to public health officials. Even a slight elevation in lead levels can lead to stunted development and a reduced IQ, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So should gun owners be concerned?
Certainly some of us should be very concerned.
According to a recent report from the California Department of Public Health’s Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, people employed with ammunition manufacturing, at ranges, gun repair shops, security training or even shooting instruction may be among those adults with the highest levels of lead exposure.
I don’t think it’s a gigantic leap of faith to understand that even the average gun owner, who doesn’t take measures to protect himself (or herself), risks acquiring unhealthy levels of lead in their system.
There are some common sense things to prevent this:
- Don’t picnic at the range. Not a good idea to eat or drink while shooting.
- Keep a pair of shoes dedicated for the range.
- When cleaning your guns use disposable surgical type gloves which can be purchased inexpensively at Costco or at a drug store.
- When you’re finished shooting or cleaning, wash your hand with soap and cold water. Cold water keeps your pores closed, therefore reducing absorption. At an outdoor range keep a container of special lead-removal wipes such as LeadOff from Hygenall in your range bag.
- After visiting the range, particularly an indoor range, change your clothing, shoes, etc and take a shower.
- Don’t clean your guns on the kitchen table.
- After cleaning your guns use a special lead-removal soap such as Hygenall’s LeadOff.
- Reloaders should consider switching to plated bullets, which are less expensive than jacketed and in most instances, just as accurate. (I’ve been using Rainier bullets for years and highly recommend them).
I mentioned LeadOff above because it’s a worthy product to consider. LeadOff removes Lead Oxide (PbO) better than ordinary soap because it’s active ingredient, Isostearamidopropyl Morpholine Lactate (ISML), has a positive electrical charge that bonds with PbO, which is negative. Regular anionic soaps work by removing natural skin oil which contains the “dirt”. PbO and other heavy metals are not removed like dirt because the lead oxide adheres, through a static charge, to the skin.
ISML has been used a long time in the formulation of cleansing products, shampoos, hair sprays and other hair products so it’s safe.
Hygenall offers two products, a wipe that comes in a canister (that you can slip in your bag) and a soap that you can use at home. They both have a pleasant, non chemical smell that will strip your hands of any nasty odor coming from solvents and the like.
I found both easy to use and just as importantly gave me a kind of psychological or sense of security.
One last note: If you’re an devoted shooter and concerned at all that you might have high lead levels, I would have your blood tested the next time you have blood work. It’s better to know in order to stay on top of things.
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