Editor’s Note: This is the first article in a series I’ve entitled “At Home and on the Range”. These pieces entail products and services that I think will be of particular interest to On Target readers in the coming year.
How about a New Year’s Resolution that entails keeping lead out of your life? If you’re around firearms I can guarantee you, you’re around lead. So, unfortunately are plenty of other folks in this country who never even pick up a gun.
Uncovering news articles about elevated levels of lead in Americans is not hard to do. If you google “elevated levels of lead” as a search term there are numerous stories such as the tragic tale of Flint, Michigan. Of course, lead has been a ubiquitous ingredient in gasoline, paint and other products for years or for that matter, millennia. One theory has it, that lead, which was used in cooking vessels and other artifacts, was a cause of the decline of the Roman Empire.
It’s still not a desirable thing to encounter in an intimate way.
Chronic exposure to lead 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 can lead to stunted development and a reduced IQ, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So where does that leave gun owners who shoot lead bullets? (Which means just about all of us).
According to a 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, with some having 40 µg/dL or greater, blood lead levels according to the report.
I’m not a public health doc but I don’t think it’s a gigantic leap of faith to believe that even the average gun owner who doesn’t take measures to protect him (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. (I don’t see a lot of eating at Kokohead, with the exception of rangemasters who aren’t handling firearms).
• Keep a pair of shoes dedicated for the range.
• When cleaning your guns use disposal surgical type gloves which can be purchased inexpensively at Costco or at a drug store.
• When you’re finished 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. Hygenall mades a LeadOff version of hand soap that’s excellent.
• Reloaders should consider switching to plated bullets, which are less expensive than jacketed and in most instances, just as accurate.
The LeadOff Option
LeadOff removes Lead Oxide (PbO) better than ordinary soap because it’s active ingredient, Isostearamidopropyl Morpholine Lactate (ISML) has a positive electrical charge and bonds with the PbO which is negative. Regular anionic soaps work by removing natural skin oil which containts the “dirt”.
PbO and other heavy metals do not clean off like dirt because the lead oxide sticks through a static charge on the skin. ISML has been used a long time in the formulation of cleansing products, shampoos, hair sprays and other hair products.
They offer three products, Foaming Cleaning and Decontamination Soap in a convenient dispenser, a disposable wipe that comes in a canister (that you can slip in your bag) and a Wipe on-Wipe off, Non-Porous Surface Cleaner that is perfect for the reloading bench at home.
All have have a pleasant, non chemical smell that will remove any nasty odor coming from solvents and the like your hands or your bench.
I found them easy to use and just as importantly offered a sense of sense of security.
If you’re a devoted shooter and concerned at all that you might be exposing yourself to 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.
In the meantime, keep those surgical gloves on when you reload or clean your firearms and douse your hands with Lead-Off.