Cast bullets are safe to reload when you follow the proper procedures.
We know that lead poisoning from inhalation and ingestion. To minimize exposure during the reloading process here is what you need to do. This guideline was developed by Michigan State University, College of Medicine. There is no need for me to reword it in an article, they did a fantastic job and we appreciate the hard work they put into developing this information.
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF HUMAN MEDICINE DEPARTMENT OF MEDICINE
117 West Fee Hall ¨ East Lansing, MI 48824
Establish a smelt/cast/reload area:
- Preferable location is outdoors or, if you must do this indoors, make sure your location is a separate area away from kitchen or food handling or storage.
- Do this on hard floors, without carpet, and surfaces that are easy to clean. Make some floor sweeping compound (sawdust, peat, or dry dirt with an oil to make it clumpy, not wet. Dust it on the floor to catch the lead dust and keep it from getting back up in the air.)
- Use lots of ventilation that exhausts air up and out, not around the room. A box or desk fan is just as bad as poor ventilation. Do not use home air systems which blow dust throughout the home.
- Never eat, drink, chew gum or smoke or have these items in the area. Lead will settle on these objects and you will eat or inhale the dust.
- Do not sweep dry floors. Use a shop- vac with HEPA filter to vacuum up your area and your clothes once you are done. Don’t use this vacuum for anything else. DO NOT use the house vacuum.
- Wipe down your work areas after casting with a damp disposable cloth or mop, using a two bucket system to keep wash water separate from rinse water.
- Keep children and women of childbearing age clear of this smelting/casting/reloading area. Children are more likely to come in contact with dust and get it in their mouths.
- Launder clothing worn during casting or reloading separate of other laundry.
- Shower off after smelting or casting. Be sure to wash your hair too. Always wash hands after handling lead, particularly before eating or smoking cigarettes.
- Know Lead Content of Components for Firearm Ammunition:
- Primers that are lead-free are available, but the majority still contains lead. New and spent primers are potential source of lead contamination. The yellow dust found in the priming station is a toxic lead compound. Do not use a can of compressed air to blow off the dust, clean affected parts with a disposable towel, dampened with cleaner. Wash lead residue from your hands and avoid inhaling fine dust from new or used primers.
- Tumble cleaning brass cases is a common practice. The inside of the case contains lead compounds that are removed by the cleaning media and can become airborne when sifting during brass separation. Particles become airborne, settle on adjacent surfaces and require you to follow safe lead practices in this process, as well. Replace cleaning media when it starts to become gray, don’t sift brass through an open colander, use a covered rotating basket style separator and always keep the lid closed while basket is spinning allow the dust to settle in the basket before removing the lid.
- Lead builds up in the body so any reduction in lead intake will help prevent lead poisoning.
LEAD HAZARDS FROM FIREARMS
Cast lead bullets develop an outer layer of lead oxide. Lead is soft and can be transferred to skin when handled. It is not the skin absorption but breathing in dust or fumes, or handling anything that you place in your mouth that are the most common sources of lead exposure. These firearms related activities expose you to the toxic heavy metal lead:
- Firearm target shooting
- Firearm cleaning
- Ammunition handling and reloading
- Casting bullets and shot
As you can see hard cast bullets can be reloaded in a safe manner if you follow some common sense procedures. This is no different than if you are remodeling your older home. Lead exists in the paint but it doesn’t mean you forgo the remodeling or gut the house in an attempt to eliminate the potential lead exposure. It means you educate yourself on how to do it safely and move on.
Reloading bullets is a rewarding hobby, one I have enjoyed for years. Cast lead bullets have allowed me to practice twice as much as if I were shooting jacketed bullets because of the cost savings. I get tired of the garbage on television and would much rather be at the reloading bench or making more cast lead bullets for our customers. I have chosen to adhere closely to the procedures keep me safe rather than pay outrageous amounts for factory loaded ammunition or jacketed bullets. I hope you will do the same.