Lead Poisoning: Exposure, Effects, & Preventative Measures for Shooters
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Published on Feb 1, 2013
This video is meant as a means for shooters to gain awareness of lead exposure during shooting and to give practical tips on preventative measures one can take to protect themselves from lead poisoning. Once lead enters the body, it stores in the bones and is very difficult to remove. It has powerful negative effects on the body at low levels, and even more so when levels become higher, of course. I've been a serious shooter for about 5 years, taking classes pretty frequently and practicing often. I've been an Instructor for a little over 3 years, spending an average of 15-20 hours/week in an indoor shooting range. My exposure has been from all three levels including inhalation, absorption, and ingestion. My level was tested in April of 2011 and had already reached 7. The range that had me tested did not tell me my level, so I had no idea there was an issue. I really wasn't concerned since no one contacted me to let me know it was elevated. I became concerned enough about my symptoms in July of 2012 that I went to a doctor who listened to me and predicted I had some kind of heavy metal poisoning. He guessed it was either mercury or lead. His prediction was right. I had zero mercury, but my lead level was 14. He said that was the highest level he'd seen in his Internal Medicine practice in 35 years. We started oral chelation and hot water soaks to attempt to draw the lead out of the bones, releasing it into the bloodstream so it could be eliminated. I started talking with staff at my local range about improving ventilation, which they did. I began using gloves when cleaning, washing hands very frequenlty, and stopped touching my face while at the range. I've also stopped all eating and drinking while there and force myself to take breaks and go out for meals. I've been doing this since August when I found out I had this issue.
I just tested again in December 2012, hoping to see a decrease in my level, but it was up to 15. The doc thinks this is because of the chelating agents releasing so much into the bloodstream. We just added 3 more chelating agents and doubled the dosage on several of the ones I'm already taking. He predicts this will take 15-20 years to get out of my system if I stop exposing myself to the lead. Unfortunately, what I love to do requires exposure to some degree. I am cutting my schedule back some, forcing me to schedule students out several weeks because this way I stay booked up 3-4 weeks into the future. But, if it helps my health, I just have to make that choice.
My symptoms are:
1) severe numbness, tingling, and burning in the forearms, wrists, and fingers with much greater intensity on the right side, causing me to have to train more with my support hand and even consider holstering on the support side. The lead has actually exacerbated the Cubital Tunnel Syndrome issues I had prior to the lead exposure, making them much worse.
2) severe fatigue -- I have crashes similar to what hypoglycemic people experience
3) Brain Fog, inability to focus or multi-task...mental acuity takes much more effort
4) stomach pain at times (this is not constant)
If you have any physical issues that have begun since you started spending increased time in the range, please take this seriously and get yourself tested. A lead level as low as 2 can cause you to have a much greater risk of heart attack, stroke, heart disease. It can cause a baby in the womb of an effected mother to have brain damage.
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