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Crooks Deserve “Lead Poisoning,” But You Don’t!



Let’s skip this particular Pb & J sammich.

It’s fun to joke about how Dillinger died of “lead poisoning,” but lead exposure is no joke.

Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. It can be particularly harmful to children, causing developmental delays, learning difficulties, and a range of other health issues. Lead poisoning can result from ingesting or inhaling lead-containing substances such as paint, dust, water, or soil.

Shooters, such as those who frequent shooting ranges, are more likely to be affected by lead poisoning due to repeated exposure to lead-containing ammunition. When firearms are discharged, lead particles and fumes are released into the air. Shooters can inhale these particles, and if proper hygiene practices are not followed, they can also ingest lead residue from handling ammunition. This chronic exposure increases the risk of lead poisoning among shooters.

Why is it important?

Lead poisoning is a significant concern for shooters, particularly those who frequent indoor shooting ranges where lead dust and fumes can be more concentrated. Without proper ventilation and safety measures, shooters are at risk of inhaling or ingesting lead particles, leading to elevated lead levels in the blood. Over time, this can result in serious health effects, especially for frequent shooters and those who do not take precautions to minimize exposure.

Health Effects:

Lead poisoning can have serious health effects, including damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, hearing and speech problems, and in severe cases, seizures, unconsciousness, and even death. It can also impact various organs such as the kidneys and reproductive system. Lead poisoning is particularly harmful to children and can have long-lasting consequences if not addressed promptly.


Symptoms of lead poisoning can include abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue, irritability, headaches, memory loss, and in severe cases, seizures and coma. It’s important to seek medical attention if you suspect lead poisoning.

Long Term Effects:

Long-term effects of lead poisoning can be severe and include:

  • Cognitive Impairment: Lead exposure, especially in children, can lead to cognitive deficits, learning disabilities, and decreased IQ levels.
  • Behavioral Issues: Lead poisoning can contribute to behavioral problems such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, and aggression.
  • Neurological Damage: Prolonged lead exposure can cause permanent damage to the nervous system, leading to nerve disorders and symptoms like numbness and tingling.
  • Kidney Damage: Lead poisoning can affect kidney function, potentially leading to kidney failure over time.
  • Reproductive Issues: Lead exposure may impact fertility in both men and women and can lead to complications during pregnancy.
  • Cardiovascular Effects: Long-term lead exposure has been linked to increased blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
  • Bone and Joint Problems: Lead can accumulate in bones over time, leading to bone density issues, joint pain, and arthritis-like symptoms.

Can animals like service/working dogs be affected?

Yes, lead poisoning can affect dogs and other animals, just like it can affect humans. Pets can be exposed to lead through various sources like contaminated soil or water, old paint, lead objects, or even by ingesting lead-containing items.

Symptoms of lead poisoning in animals may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, seizures, and neurological issues. Chronic exposure to lead can lead to serious health problems and even death in pets.

If you suspect that your dog or other animals have been exposed to lead, it’s crucial to contact a veterinarian immediately for proper diagnosis and treatment. Preventing access to areas or items containing lead and ensuring a safe environment for pets can help mitigate the risk of lead poisoning in animals. Especially for K9 working dogs that frequent shooting ranges, it is important for the K9 to wear protective dog shoes, or the handler should wash its paws thoroughly before the dog has the opportunity to lick them.

I’m concerned … now what?

If you suspect you have lead poisoning, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly. But remember that one range trip should not give you lead poisoning—it’s repeated exposure, not following best hygiene practices, and shooting at poorly ventilated indoor ranges that can increase levels. The goal is to catch it before it has a chance to become an issue.

Here are steps to take if you believe you may have lead poisoning:

  • Contact a Healthcare Provider: Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider, such as your primary care physician or a local clinic, to discuss your concerns.
  • Testing: Your healthcare provider may recommend a blood test to check your lead levels.
  • Identify and Address the Source: Work to identify and eliminate the source of lead exposure to prevent further poisoning. How many sandwiches have you consumed while playing with your ammo or shooting? Im guilty of it my self, so I am just saying…be aware.
  • Environmental Assessment: Consider having your home or workplace tested for lead if it may be a source of exposure. If you re-load ammo, especially melting and casting lead bullets, assess your ventilation. You may consider wearing gloves and even having commercial de-leading cleaners available. How often do you clean up your work spaces, and dispose of contaminated items like cleaning rags?

Next week, we’ll talk testing, treatment and (even more importantly) prevention. Until then, I remain …

—James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewfessional Himself!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Bret

    April 16, 2024 at 7:02 am

    Really??? Now I’m going to die because I go to the range too often. Just stop!!!

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