Lead casting outdoorsmen may save money but at what cost?

Hunters and fishers who are trying to save money by lead casting – casting their own lead bullets and fishing weights – may not be aware of what it could cost them, said Fort Knox Chief Industrial Hygienist Dr. Samuel Moss.

Moss should know. He’s been a microbiologist and environmental chemist for nearly 30 years, he’s dealt with this deadly issue nearly his entire career, and knows it leaves no trace to its destruction.

“Lead is asymptomatic, and there are no signs for lead exposure until you’re at dangerous levels,” Moss said. “By that time, you’re close to death.”

The disease is especially dangerous because the body readily accepts lead, but Moss said that in doing so the body must reject something the body truly does need.

“The body [mistakes] lead for calcium. Both have a positive two charge … the brain calls for calcium but receives lead instead.” Moss said.” “Lead deadens the brain, but the brain has no pain receptors and it doesn’t feel pain. Just like a key that doesn’t open a lock, lead takes the place of calcium – the key that would open the lock. You can’t put the right key in because the wrong key is in the way.

“The brain doesn’t function on lead, but because it doesn’t feel pain, it doesn’t realize that it’s dying.”

This is a major concern for Moss who said that lead casting is growing in popularity but usually comes with no disclaimer.

“All you have to do is watch [internet] videos on casting lead to see the danger,” Moss said. “One video has nearly 200,000 views, and this is the guy saying, ‘I’ve done it enough that I don’t need gloves anymore,’ and ‘You don’t need a mask if you’re careful.’ And, they have no concept.

“The majority of the people I’ve viewed doing this from just a cursory look had some tie to the military. They had some sort of assimilation to veterans.”

Lead casting might be appealing for several reasons, and Moss said that Soldiers who are often outdoor and do-it-yourself types might also feel they are above nature’s physical law at times.

“It’s human nature to say, ‘I will see an unsafe act and jump out of harm’s way, and I’ll be fine,” Moss said. “Soldiers tend to think, ‘I’ve survived worse.’”

But Moss said they don’t realize who they’re really putting at risk.
“You heat this stuff, and it forms sphericals that oxidize when they hit the air and they fall out. So everywhere that plume goes, you can assume you’ll find a [trail] that has settled out and that is on the floor,” Moss said. “An adult might never be exposed to it, but a child will most often be exposed to it. A toddler is crawling and their hands are always wet and constantly going into their mouth.

“Children are looked at the most, and you can see why it affects them most. From 0-7 years is when the child’s brain is in its most active state of development.”

Lead is most harmful to babies, and not even the womb is safe from the effects of lead.

“The child is very susceptible in utero when the brain is developing in the first couple of months,” Moss said. “It’s incredibly dangerous for the mother and the baby, but especially for the baby.”

Lead casting is serious enough that he makes his appeal to both parents.
“I’m not going to change every man’s opinion with a news article about the dangers of lead. He might say, ‘I’ve done this for years and it hasn’t hurt me any,” Moss said. “But, what I can do is to put this information out there where at least it gets a start.

“Every mother realizes that you can’t keep anything totally clean,” Moss said. “You can do a great job, but it’s just not going to happen.”
“What are the chances that there is still lead dust lying around? Better than 50-50.”

Moss said there can be no doubt.

“If you’re casting lead bullets or sinkers or anything else lead, then you have a lead problem. People who say they don’t have a problem have never looked because they don’t want to find it.”

There are several telltale signs that you have a problem, and Moss said the quicker you find out the better it will be.

“You can find out by simply going to the local paint or hardware store and purchasing a test kit,” Moss said. “I’d test where it’s heated and the threshold of the house where it’s brought into the house. Every time you see a plume go up, you’ve got to realize that it’s already reacted to the air and the lead particles are falling down.

“If you’re dealing with lead, you’ve got to get tested. The truth is, you won’t know unless you take a blood test,” Moss said. “If you miss everything else the blood test will tell us. If you’re still being exposed it will let us know, and you’d better go back and find the source.”

Without a lead source or more lead being introduced, Moss said the body will begin to excrete lead and to slowly get rid of it.

“If the values go up, you’re still exposed and we need to keep looking for the source of the lead,” Moss said. “If it’s going down that means we’re on the right track. It takes about eight weeks to get rid of half of the lead that’s in your bloodstream.”

Moss said the problem is no exaggeration, and neither is the decision that parents have to make.

“I think it is one of the riskiest behaviors, if not the riskiest,” Moss said. “You have a known toxin in the hands of people without training or any understanding of the implications, and they’re putting themselves and their families at risk.

“Remove the hazard from the child, or move the child from the hazard. Those are your only options.”

DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub ( The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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