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Old May 16, 2005, 08:27 PM   #1
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Dumb question : lead in burning powder?

Call me ign'rnt, but : are their lead fumes/vapors as a result of the actual burning of the powder? Or is it all the result of vaporized lead at the base of the bullet? I've been using Hornady FMJ-RN which actually is a TMJ in that it has full copper covering at the base - so I'm just wondering if I'm actually cutting lead emissions to nearly zero by doing so.
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Old May 16, 2005, 08:51 PM   #2
Jim Watson
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According to one study I read, most of the airborne lead on a range is from what is eroded from the base of a conventional FMJ and off the base and sides of cast. So you are in good shape there.

The bullet may shatter when it hits a steel plate or indoor bullet trap but the particles are not fine enough to travel far in air.

Standard priming compound contains lead and most of it is released when the shot is fired. Some sources say this is the main source of airborne lead but I contacted the author of the study I saw and he said it was not in his tests.
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Old May 16, 2005, 09:59 PM   #3
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Kind of depends on where you measure I think

I don't see lead as an ingredient or reaction product in burning gun powder if that is the question - no transmutation of elements, it's not a nuclear reaction. I think the problem is dispersal of existing lead and encapsulating works as well for lead as for asbestos - which may be not very but I can't do more myself - I do prefer to shoot outdoors where I hope the lead is scattered more but that may as much taste as health.

My information is nowhere near current but for indoor .22 intercollegiate competition the lead around the firing line was priming compound type - lead styphenate and such.

Downrange the priming compound decreased and spray then backspray increased. Many of us have seen indications on paper of lead or lube or both coming off cast bullets like a spiral galaxy.

I haven't tested it myself but I'd expect that lacking a water curtain successive shots on a bullet trap would grind ever smaller particles and disperse them regardless of plating

(I'd think even the best snail would shake a little bit on each shot and pieces or the whole of each bullet would impact the ones that came before)

but with proper from the firing line to the target airflow and then scrubbers before the exhaust I'd hope environmental lead is minimized.

I may disagree with Mas Ayoob on a few things, likely because I'm ignorant, but I agree with him on always shoot outdoors (I have to add if you can because I don't have his resources either)
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