Thread: Lead lead lead
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Old April 3, 2019, 07:32 AM   #5
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Join Date: September 29, 2005
Location: Texas, 5th GEN!
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Interesting 2004 study conducted by Virginia Tech geologists at the US Forest Service gun range. Asked the exact same question as I did, found zero lead in the surface and ground water. They concluded it doesn't get into groundwater. The site had >23 m tons of it scattered all around.

If the lead remains buried it will oxidize more slowly and be more inert.

After reading several articles, I would be more concerned with long-term inhalation of lead vapor in an enclosed firing range, than I would be from lead deposited in the topsoil. I would've guessed that non-jacketed ammo would produce significantly more lead vapor; however, primers are listed as a source as well. The link below is to a 'review article' published in Environmental Health. It collected multiple case series and case reports then compiled them.

I reviewed their listed data and find no consistency in most of the case report information; however, the larger reports cited do seem plausible, as there are at least larger cohorts and variables. The excerpt below is from a 2009 German study. The number on the left column is blood lead level, with range next. To the far right is the number of people tested for each group. For reference, average BLL is 1.2 mcg/dl in the US. >10 is considered abnormal for adults. >50 requires occupational removal per OSHA. Children are most susceptible and should be <5 mcg/dl. The article extrapolates that children associated with exposed subjects had high lead levels, but again no statistical controls.

Shooter 9.2* 2.7–52.1 Germany 129 Demmeler et al. (2009) [44]
Shooter: Q1 200 rounds/month 8.7* 2.8–31.4 27
Shooter: Q2 200–399 rounds/month 9* 2.7–31.5 28
Shooter: Q3 400–680 rounds/month 11.8* 2.9–37.5 29
Shooter: Q4 > 680 rounds/month 13.8* 3.7–52.1 23
Airguns 3.3* 1.8–12.7 20
Airguns and .22 caliber 8.7* 1.4–17.2 15
.22 lr bore & large caliber 10.7* 2.7–37.5 51
Large caliber handgun 10* 2.8–32.6 32
IPSC (International Practical Shooting Federation) 19.2* 3.2–52.1 11

If anyone here shoots more than 400 rounds per month, especially in an enclosed range, I would consider checking a BLL the next time you get blood tests. Children should probably stay away from gun ranges.

Last edited by surg_res; April 3, 2019 at 07:40 AM.
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