President Obama has been crowned the greatest gun salesman in America. People are flocking to the gun ranges to shoot their newest protection piece and concealed weapons permits are up significantly.
One “medical concern” you should be looking for is “lead contamination”.
You and/or your patients are exposed to lead every time they shoot. Lead is typically contained in the primer of each bullet or shell, so when you fire your gun all of the residue and powder from the explosion lands on your hands, face and shirt and you’re essentially covered in lead particles. In the crime shows they call the GSR (gun shot residue) This vaporized lead obviously can be inhaled, but the particles of lead sheared off as an unjacketed bullet travels down the barrel are small enough to be easily inhaled as well. Once inhaled the lead readily crosses to the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. It is absorbed like calcium and interferes with iron absorption and can be deposited in bone and fat and other soft tissue.
In addition, if you clean your firearm when you get home, that firearm is covered in lead dust. When you’re shoving the cleaning rod down the barrel that dust is shooting out of the barrel into your house.
If you happen to walk around and pick up your brass or shell cases after you shoot, those are covered in lead. And if you put that in your pocket or scoop it up in a hat, then you have a pocket or hat covered in lead dust as well.
Symptoms of lead poisoning are varied and may affect many parts of the body. Most of the time, lead poisoning builds up slowly following repeated exposures to small quantities of lead and is difficult to detect until symptoms progress. Most doctors do not inquire about recreational gun use and when symptoms present, lead poisoning is way down the list of differential diagnoses. Typically it is diagnosed by a blood lead levels test. CDC recognizes blood lead levels (BLLs) of >25 µg/dL in adults and >10 µg/dL in children as levels of concern.
Signs and symptoms in adults may include:
• High blood pressure
• Abdominal pain
• Joint pains
• Muscle pain
• Declines in mental functioning
• Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities
• Memory loss
• Mood disorders
• Reduced sperm count, abnormal sperm
• Miscarriage or premature birth in pregnant women