Ammo, lead & pregnancy

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Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by woodsghost » Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:48 pm

Got a question.

This started with a friend who is starting on a family and wanting to know how cautious he and his wife need to be with shooting and the potential for exposure to lead. I"m interested in the same thing as I plan to start working on a family in the next 1-3 years. Well, my wife will be doing most of the real work....

So, I assume bullets with exposed lead would be bad to have around the house if one is working on getting pregnant.

I also assume washing of hands with de-leading soap would be wise.

What about jacketed rounds? Would that reduce exposure potential to safe levels? What about rounds that have lead exposed in the rear end? Or rounds which are completely jacketed?

What about shooting at indoor ranges? Would there be too much potential for exposure to lead in the air? Or on surfaces in the range?

Thanks for all the advice!
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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Delsaw » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:11 pm

Just some random thoughts. Have a almost three year old and another on the way. Don't think the lead in the bullets at the house are an issue. Unless the kid will be chewing on it. :) For pregnant women you have to be concerned with the lead dust at ranges, so indoor ranges would be worse, even with filters, etc. Also I think you would want be to concerned with the noise/concussion for a pregnant lady.

After shooting or reloading I would use the soap they have at the ranges to get the lead residue off you hands before picking up the baby.

I used ti live in a 1920s house with our first born. Sure there was lead paint all over the place that didn't get detected. Just need to keep him away from any dust when we did home improvement.

Writing from my phone so couldn't fact check everything, just based off my memory.

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Stercutus » Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:19 pm

All indoor ranges are required to be ventilated. The vent systems are pretty substantial. This does not mean they are safe. I avoid indoor ranges when at all possible. The only indoor ranges I like have bullet resistant glass between the lanes to separate you from the lane next to you.

After shooting I always wash all exposed skin including hands, face, neck and arms. I do this after I clean my guns at well, normally taking a shower. I'd say she would be best to not clean the weapons at all or use gloves. The solvents and cleaners can't be good for anyone.

I would avoid shooting too closely to a known back stop as well. The back stop will have tons of lead embedded in it and rounds striking the back stop can kick it up in to the air. I don't know of a safe distance but I don't shoot any closer than 20 yards. You can move the target farther away from the backstop to adjust ranges.
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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by minengr » Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:31 pm

If you're a reloader, don't take a deep breath when popping the top off your tumbler. Wash your hand well and you should be fine.
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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Confucius » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:14 pm

Wash your hands, and don't shoot in an indoor range. Don't see it being an issue otherwise...

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by SRO1911 » Sun Sep 04, 2016 12:03 am

Most docs will give you the standard - ooooh guns bad spiel.

We were fortunate, my wife and I both worked at a range, taught, and shot competitively. We initially met her OB at a class - he became a competitor, and a friend. When it came time, this was something we frequently discussed - and for the most part it was "dont worry about it"
Definitely wash hands
except for the tumbler, reloading is lower risk than drinking tap water. (might be a good time to spring for a wet tumbler...its for the children :mrgreen:
Shooting in general is ok up to the last half of the last trimester except - No prone rifle after the 1st tri, no magnum rifles after the second.
No cleaning of guns
and, I quote "absolutely no glocks, it might make the baby nauseous" :clap:

He was also a 1911 fan.

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Close_enough » Sun Sep 04, 2016 2:37 pm

Can you monitor blood lead levels?

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by solarguy » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:53 am

Close_enough wrote:Can you monitor blood lead levels?
Yes you can, and it's not that expensive.

Lead from the bullets is generally less concerning than the lead azide and lead styphanate primer compounds. When fired this produces significant amounts of lead in the air. This contaminates your hands (and to a lesser extent, other exposed skin) , your clothes and your shoes.

For shooters, the classic exposure path for babies is you track it in on your shoes, contaminate the floor, and the kid crawls around on the floor and ingests it on his/her hands. Lead paint is not AS big a deal as it used to be, having been mostly covered up and/or replaced.

Now, just to be clear, the amount of contamination from one visit to a dirty indoor range is pretty minimal, but over time it can turn into meaningful amounts.

So, wash your hands, leave the range shoes out in the garage or entryway and change clothes. Avoid indoor ranges if you're super concerned.

I reload, I recover/refine lead, I cast bullets, I shoot regularly. I take modest precautions and when I got the blood test I measured better than average.

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by roscoe » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:11 am

If I were pregnant (and a woman), I would just hold off the 9 months I was pregnant. Lead is very serious, as is the potential damage from noise, to a developing fetus. Maybe shooting subsonic .22 rounds from a rifle outdoors, and infrequently, would be OK, but I don't see that the benefit is worth the risk.

Running, weight-lifting, swimming - all those things are good for pregnant women, so I am not recommending just hunkering down for 9 months. But lead, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. - just hold off till the baby is not sharing a circulatory system with the mother.

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Close_enough » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:18 pm

roscoe wrote:If I were pregnant (and a woman), I would just hold off the 9 months I was pregnant. Lead is very serious, as is the potential damage from noise, to a developing fetus. Maybe shooting subsonic .22 rounds from a rifle outdoors, and infrequently, would be OK, but I don't see that the benefit is worth the risk.
I had forgotten about noise. IIRC, hearing develops about 16 weeks after conception, and anything loud enough to be uncomfortable for an unprotected adult is too loud for the fetus. Once a women is in her second trimester, it would probably be a good idea to stay clear of all firearm shooting ranges. Bow, crossbows (with winch cocking aid), or air gun are probably still okay at this poinr.

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Re: Ammo, lead & pregnancy

Post by Trebor » Fri Sep 30, 2016 7:05 am

Lead exposure is a very real risk that is under appreciated by shooters.

Unfortunately, not only are most shooters very ignorant of the real health dangers, most physicians are ill-informed on the subject as well.

I'm an instructor and gunwriter and, since I spend a lot of time actively shooting or just being around firearms, I've been researching this for years.

There are some simple things you can do to reduce exposure. There are also some things that are out of your control regarding range construction and ventilation you should be aware of.

I'll post a link to a multi-part series on the bottom of the post and it should, rightly, scare the crap out of you. The caveat is the range highlighted in the article is the poster child for "How not to mitigate lead risks."

In short you get lead exposure from shooting from:

Inhaling the lead atomized when a round is fired. This comes from both the lead projectile and the chemicals used in the priming compound.

Contact exposure (which typically leads to inhalation exposure) from lead contaminated items and surfaces in shooting ranges.

Direct exposure by touching exposed lead bullets. (My understanding is that touching an unfired lead bullet and then touching your mouth does not transfer as much lead as is transferred from the residue from fired rounds on surfaces or the floor which you pick up and transfer to your mouth or inhale the dust).

In general tips to reduce lead exposure include: (These are in stream of consciousness order)

Using jacketed ammo to reduce the lead "scrapped" off the bullet from friction with the barrel that is then spread through the air. An even better choice is to use ammunition with fully encapsulated bullets (jacket even at the base) so that you don't get lead exposure from particles generated from the exposed lead at the base of the bullet.

Use ammo with lead-free primers. (The fully encapsulated ammo mentioned above will typically use no-lead primers, but not all ammo with no-lead primers has fully encapsulated bullets. Of the two, I believe the no-lead primers are the most important).

Have dedicated shoes for shooting due to the lead dust on floors. Only use these for shooting and leave them in the garage, etc., to avoid bringing lead dust into your home.

Avoid touching your mouth and face while shooting. Do not eat, drink or smoke while at the range.

Wash your hands in cold water, ideally with lead removing soap, at the range before eating, drinking, or smoking or at the end of your range trip. In a pinch, pack baby wipes in your range bag for outdoor ranges that don't have running water and wipe down your hands and face before eating, drinking, or smoking or at the end of the trip.

Change your clothes when you get home and take a shower. Wash the shooting clothes by themselves.

Outdoor ranges are better than indoor ranges. Uncovered outdoor ranges are better than covered outdoor ranges as the rain will wash away much of the lead dust and contamination on the ground.

At an outdoor range, avoid shooting if the breeze is blowing towards you, as this will push the expelled particles right back at you.

At an indoor range, avoid older ranges with older ventilation systems. I've been in ranges where you could taste metal in your mouth while shooting or wound up with black snot after a short amount of time. I avoid those now.

At an indoor range, do NOT sweep up your brass with a broom. This disturbs the residue on the floor and puts all that lead dust in the air for you to breath. Leave the range clean up to the employees who (hopefully) will wear safety gear when they sweep up the brass. (Seriously, if they ask you to sweep up brass with a broom, politely decline. If they do it while you are there, ask if they can until you leave)

At an outdoor range, wash your hands after picking up brass.

The more you shoot, the more risk you are at. If you shoot often you should consider getting a baseline lead level blood test by your Doctor. Then get rechecked at 6 months (or less) to see if there is any change. I would recommend this for pro firearms instructors (especially police instructors) serious competition shooters who practice intensely, or other frequent shooters, especially those who use indoor ranges more than outdoor ranges.

For pregnancy and shooting, there is a lot of conflicting info out there, from various sources including physicians. Personally, i would recommend anyone who knows they are pregnant avoid shooting OR going to the range for the pregnancy. (Just not firing the gun yourself is not enough as just being at the range provides exposure).

Here's the scary article I mentioned earlier. ... th-lead/1/

And here's a good blog post on the subject ... ur-safety/
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