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Old January 23, 2012, 05:18 PM   #1
warbirdlover
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Lead warnings

Being a retired metallurgist I've had some experience with lead. It's commonly added to steel (usually bar stock) for machineability and also to brass, copper and bronze for the same reason. It makes the cutting tools cut like butter.

One of purchasing guys decided he'd help out the guys in the shop and told the casting company to double the lead in the bronze castings (without any concern for material strength etc).

I was talking to the owner of the foundry and he said he had to back off on the lead as his WHOLE workforce got severe lead poisoning from breathing the vapors. And this was a large foundry.

My point of this post is, when you guys are pouring lead, don't do it in a confined area and preferably use some kind of a mask. No kidding! If you don't realize how bad lead poisoning can be read this... The workers in the foundry all had these symptoms!

Quote:
Occupational Lead Poisoning

KEVIN C. STAUDINGER, M.D., M.P.H., Baptist Health Centers, Inc., Birmingham, Alabama

VICTOR S. ROTH, M.D., M.P.H., University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama

Am Fam Physician. 1998 Feb 15;57(4):719-726.

See related patient information handout on coronary artery disease, written by the authors of this article.


The continued occurrence of occupational lead overexposure and lead poisoning in the United States remains a serious problem despite awareness of its adverse health effects. Lead exposure is arguably the oldest known occupational health hazard. It is a particularly insidious hazard with the potential for causing irreversible health effects, including hypotension, central nervous system problems, anemia and diminished hearing acuity before it is clinically recognized. Scientific evidence of subclinical lead toxicity continues to accumulate, making further reduction in workplace exposure, regular screening, and earlier diagnosis and treatment of critical importance in the prevention of this occupational hazard. For the most part, the diagnosis of lead poisoning in the adult worker is based on the integration of data obtained from the history, a physical examination, laboratory tests and tests of specific organ function. A blood lead level of 40 μg per dL (1.95 μmol per L) or greater requires medical intervention; a level of 60 μg per dL (2.90 μmol per L) or three consecutive measurements averaging 50 μg per dL (2.40 μmol per L) or higher indicate the necessity for employee removal. The decision to initiate chelation therapy is not based on specific blood lead levels but depends on the severity of clinical symptoms.

Occupational lead poisoning has been a recognized health hazard for more than 2,000 years. Characteristic features of lead toxicity, including anemia, colic, neuropathy, nephropathy, sterility and coma, were noted by Hippocrates and Nikander in ancient times, as well as Ramazzini and Hamilton in the modern era.1 Physicians have gained an extensive understanding of the causes, the clinical presentations and the means of preventing lead poisoning. However, it remains one of the most important occupational and environmental health problems.2

Lead serves no useful biologic function in the human body. Over the past several years, concern has increased over the health effects of low-level lead exposure and the “normal” body burden of lead. In the occupational setting, the present “no-effect” level for lead exposure is currently being reevaluated as more sensitive measures of the physiologic effects of lead are made available through clinical investigations.3 Based on current knowledge of the health effects of lead in adults, the U.S. Public Health Service has declared a health objective for the year 2000: the elimination of all exposures that result in blood lead concentrations greater than 25 μg per dL (1.20 μmol per L) in workers.4

Occupational Exposure and the OSHA Lead Standard

Lead and lead compounds play a significant role in modern industry, with lead being the most widely used nonferrous metal.5 A wide variety of industrial populations is at risk of occupational exposure to lead (Table 1). According to estimates made by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), more than 3 million workers in the United States are potentially exposed to lead in the workplace. Occupational exposure to lead in general industry is regulated by the 1978 Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Lead Standard. The general industry standard specifies permissible limits on airborne lead exposure, as well as blood lead levels (Table 2). A construction standard, recently extended to cover workers in the construction industry, has slight differences in detail. However, enforcement of both standards is inadequate, and significant occupational exposure remains widespread.6

TABLE 1
Major Occupations and Industries Associated with Lead Overexposure
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------




Battery manufacturing




Chemical industry




Construction workers




Demolition workers




Firing-range instructors




Foundry workers




Gas-station attendants




Gasoline additives production




Jewelers




Lead miners




Lead smelters and refiners




Pigment manufacturing




Pipe fitters




Plastics industry




Pottery workers




Printers




Radiator repair




Rubber industry




Soldering of lead products




Solid waste production




Stained-glass makers




Welders
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Old January 23, 2012, 07:31 PM   #2
IllinoisCoyoteHunter
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If they are adding it to steel then I would assume both the steel and the lead would have to be molten, right? The temp at which steel melts FAR, FAR exceeds the temperature lead does. So when the lead is mixed with the molten steel some is vaporized (and can be ingested in the system). We work at levels where lead is not vaporized. Thanks for the concern though.

There are NUMEROUS people on this forum and Castboolits forum that have their lead levels checked regularly, and as long as you keep your fingers out of your mouth while handling lead you are not gonna get poisoned from casting.
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Old January 23, 2012, 10:52 PM   #3
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If lead is melted there is vapor. Brass melts at very low temperatures but as you said not nearly as low as lead. The lead added does not go into "solution" (alloy) with the base metal, it is in the form of lead "non-metallic inclusions" which act as lubricant when the cutting tool goes through.


Quote:
Fumes


Lead has a low melting point of 621.5 degrees Fahrenheit making it useful for welding and soldering projects that increase the potential of breathing harmful fumes. The New York State Department of Health cautions that heating paint to remove it, soldering, lead smelting, or torch-cutting contaminated metal can release the dangerous fumes.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:21 PM   #4
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As ICH said, watch your hygiene when handling lead and avoid casting in small enclosed areas and you will be fine. Wash your hands WELL with hot soapy water after handling lead and keep your hands away from your face as well. No smoking or eating while handling molten lead and you will not have a problem. It is not a bad to have your lead levels checked on a regular basis as well especially if you are handling large quantities of lead.

Also, if you are worried about handling lead, send me a PM and I'll take all of that nasty evil toxic material you care to send me. I have room to store another couple thousand pounds of it.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:22 PM   #5
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Show me info where it show the temp at which lead vaporizes.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
The New York State Department of Health cautions that heating paint to remove it, soldering, lead smelting, or torch-cutting contaminated metal can release the dangerous fumes.
They've been talking with those "geniuses" in California again, haven't they? Consider the source of the warnings.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:49 PM   #7
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I once worked at a tetra ethyl lead plant where lead was heated just enough to make it liquid. Getting “leaded” was an occupational hazard there. Yes, lead does put off vapors even though barely molten.

All liquids put off vapors as far as I know. Water for example. It doesn’t have to boil to put off water vapor. Ever seen a cloud? Clouds are made of tiny droplets of water but the tiny droplets are formed from water vapor which came from water which wasn’t boiling.

Mercury, which is a metal, is molten at room temperature and puts off vapors just sitting there.

Not all warnings are hype.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:52 PM   #8
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Ive been doing electronic manufacturing for 7 years now, i inhale lead fumes every day doing solderinh. No ill effects yet. I have a fan to blow some of it away.

Cali says everything gives you cancer

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Old January 24, 2012, 12:16 AM   #9
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ClayInTx has it right. Ignore this warning if you want. I've just seen some people with symptoms you wouldn't believe. It's not a pretty sight.

Quote:
Ammunition manufacturing

Lead melts at a reasonably low temperature. This, along with the fact that lead is an extremely durable metal, makes lead an attractive component used in bullets. Special precautions should be taken when melting lead and molding bullets. The process of melting lead causes a lead vapor, which is extremely poisonous and can be easily inhaled. Melting lead should always occur in a well-ventilated area in the absence of children or pregnant women, as they are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead poisoning.
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Old January 24, 2012, 12:55 AM   #10
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I too have been casting indoors since '72. The first 15 years in a drafty basement, no ventilation

Since then, I've been it the same spare bedroom as the rest of my loading gear. Again, no ventilation. The last 3 years, I've been getting tested for my lead levels, the HIGHEST was 7.0. That with shooting at an indoor range in wintertime.

A lot of hype from the govmint is just junk science. Studies that come to a forgone conclusion by cherry picking studies that agree with your agenda, and ignoring studies that say the opposite. Same goes with the so-called toxicity of lead.

Lead is NOT absorbed through your skin. It must be ingested.
Lead does not fume below 1200 degrees. So the smoke you see from fluxing is just that, SMOKE not lead fumes.
Fired primers are much more of a problem, the lead styphonate is easily absorbed when the dust from fired primers is inhaled.

I'm sure the surfaces of my loading/casting room are contaminated with lead. If I had any young kids around or a pregnant female, I'd be real worried. I live alone, no one to rag on me, tell me what to do. I just wash my hands real good when I leave that room. Works for me.

All the knowledge I've been able to accumulate says there's no real danger from home casting lead bullets. It's common knowledge that lead does not throw vapors under 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Does it have vapors once molten? Yes, but they stay tightly confined to the surface of the lead. You would have to work at it to get them airborne, something to suck them off very near the surface of the lead. That means deliberately using a hose or straw to inhale the vapors.

Our casting pots seldom go above 900 deg. Normal casting is seldom above 750 deg. Lead boils at 3180 deg. THEN fumes vigorously. If added to molten steel, it would certainly be throwing fumes, which is why foundries and steel mill workers are poisoned.

Lead oxide is much more dangerous than metallic lead. Smelters are dealing with Galena ore which has lead oxide in it. So smelter workers are in danger of getting poisoned.
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Old January 24, 2012, 04:25 AM   #11
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Quote:
I too have been casting indoors since '72. The first 15 years in a drafty basement, no ventilation

Since then, I've been it the same spare bedroom as the rest of my loading gear. Again, no ventilation. The last 3 years, I've been getting tested for my lead levels, the HIGHEST was 7.0. That with shooting at an indoor range in wintertime.

A lot of hype from the govmint is just junk science. Studies that come to a forgone conclusion by cherry picking studies that agree with your agenda, and ignoring studies that say the opposite. Same goes with the so-called toxicity of lead.

Lead is NOT absorbed through your skin. It must be ingested.
Lead does not fume below 1200 degrees. So the smoke you see from fluxing is just that, SMOKE not lead fumes.
Fired primers are much more of a problem, the lead styphonate is easily absorbed when the dust from fired primers is inhaled.

I'm sure the surfaces of my loading/casting room are contaminated with lead. If I had any young kids around or a pregnant female, I'd be real worried. I live alone, no one to rag on me, tell me what to do. I just wash my hands real good when I leave that room. Works for me.

All the knowledge I've been able to accumulate says there's no real danger from home casting lead bullets. It's common knowledge that lead does not throw vapors under 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Does it have vapors once molten? Yes, but they stay tightly confined to the surface of the lead. You would have to work at it to get them airborne, something to suck them off very near the surface of the lead. That means deliberately using a hose or straw to inhale the vapors.

Our casting pots seldom go above 900 deg. Normal casting is seldom above 750 deg. Lead boils at 3180 deg. THEN fumes vigorously. If added to molten steel, it would certainly be throwing fumes, which is why foundries and steel mill workers are poisoned.

Lead oxide is much more dangerous than metallic lead. Smelters are dealing with Galena ore which has lead oxide in it. So smelter workers are in danger of getting poisoned.
If you want to take a chance, go ahead. I was only letting you know what I know as a retired metallurgist for a transmission company.
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Old January 24, 2012, 06:53 AM   #12
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Lead vapor is a gas and therefore must behave as a gas. That means it expands to occupy all the space in a container (room). That's why you can smell ammonia or mercaptan even if you are on the opposite side of the room from the spill. Of course, you never get perfect mixing and heavier gasses tend to congregate in low areas but there are no absolutes. If lead vapor is in an open space you can be exposed just like you can with mercury.

Now don't get me wrong, there's not much lead in the room. Lead, even at melting temperatures has a very, very low vapor pressure. This means it has little volatility. The downside of low vapor pressure is that Dalton's law says you can have a lot of it in the air since its low partial pressure doesn't have much impact on the atmospheric pressure.

I don't think casting is dangerous if minimal precautions are taken. I wouldn't downplay the risks either.

My Uncle lived to a ripe old age even though he smoked most of his life. He may have had a strong opinion that because he was healthy, smoking was not harmful. My mother-in-law, who died a couple years ago from emphysema would probably disagree...
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Old January 24, 2012, 04:53 PM   #13
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Quote:
If you want to take a chance, go ahead. I was only letting you know what I know as a retired metallurgist for a transmission company.
I'm living proof that what I do is NOT having a detrimental effect on my health. My blood lead levels are way below the 20.0 level, and according to your hysteria, I should be in need of chelation to reduce my lead levels.

Those evil wheelweights were apparently falling off everybodys tires, then attacking innocent children, poisoning them. So good ol' commifornia outlaws them. Other states follow suit, so now we have much bigger iron and zinc weights on our tires. Gone are the consistent source for material for our hobby.

That just goes to prove that the hype put out by the EPA is just that, HYPE! They have to justify their existence or loose their power. Also, if they can get rid of lead for boolits, they can back-door-control guns.

Look at the junk science they used to ban lead in bullets in commifornia. Supposedly the lead bullets were ALWAYS in the gut pile from game animals shot while hunting and predator control. Buzzards, oops CONDORS, eat the gut pile, then immediately die from lead poisoning. Everybody on this forum knows that 90% of the bullets pass-through game to be lost in the landscape.The other 10% come to rest in the body of the deer. I never found a bullet in the guts of a whitetail deer here in WI.

When I cast, there's a certain smell present. Kind of metallic? When I'm done and shut down, after a couple of hours I make a visit to the bathroom,(next to the man-cave), I smell that still in the air. It smells like money!!

Here's a good article by Glen Fryxell over at LASC. Simply following hygene is all that's required.

http://www.lasc.us/FryxellSafeHandlingLead.htm

Now I'll hit the ball back in your court. If you fear getting poisoned by lead you have 2 choices. 1. don't load or shoot anything lead, then shoot only jacketed bullets out-of-doors with a good wind in your face. 2. get a hax-mat suit, get a positive flow exhaust hood over your pot, wear gloves, a face mask, then only cast during the full moon. Note; your lead-blood levels won't be any better than mine are while I'm NOT taking ANY of those silly precautions!
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Old January 24, 2012, 06:31 PM   #14
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Well I'm not a fanatic about it snuffy and the only thing that I'd worry about is casting bullets but since I have no experience doing it I'll just be quiet. I never worried about lead in game or the environment. Only the fumes from the story that foundry owner told me. I was only relating a real occurence that happened that might affect guys that cast bullets. Shame on me.

And if I did cast I have a good ventilation system going .... just in case.

(and I don't believe in global warming or solid copper bullets!)

BTW, I used to work for Rockwell International in Oshkosh many years ago and my oldest daughter lives there. I used to drive from Wautoma every day. Now I'm in the Wisconsin crime capital of Racine.

Last edited by warbirdlover; January 24, 2012 at 06:36 PM.
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Old January 24, 2012, 07:55 PM   #15
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WBL, I think we've come to an agreement on the amount of over-caution and misinformation about the so-called hazards of casting lead bullets. I IS a concern if you have small children around. I just wanted to counter your post in case a prospective caster looked at it, then got scared away.

The ol' rock huh? Small world, I just retired from Axle Tech, what the axle plant became after Rockwell bailed. In fact, I started within weeks after it was sold to Meritor. General dynamics now owns the plant, it's coming back strong under their leadership. Still the old building by the river, BUT all the machines are gone, just an assembly plant now.
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Old January 24, 2012, 08:04 PM   #16
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Thinking back to all the split-shot I used to bite to close them and then bite again to open them you think I would be dead. I would go fishing at least once a week for years. I have been loading lead bullets and casting for five years. I have my lead levels checked every year when I have my blood work done for other problems. My lead level number is 8. I agree we need to be careful and use good hygiene but I don't think it's as dangerous as the govmint would like us to believe.
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Old January 24, 2012, 08:42 PM   #17
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Good point on the split shot. I've eaten tons of that stuff too!
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