Lead poisoning can be really hard to detect as people with high levels of blood often seem to be healthy in the early stages. In most cases, symptoms and signs of lead poisoning doesn’t appear until the lead in your blood reaches dangerous levels. And if we didn’t have enough to worry about with bullets and all those shootouts, turns out that getting shot could also expose you to lead poisoning. And that’s just another reason to encourage a switch to lead free ammunition!
How is it a Danger Really?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 450 people were diagnosed with high levels of blood due to gunshot wounds between the years 2003 to 2012. The report says that this lead comes from fragments that end up staying in the body and are not removed. These fragments are hardly ever reported, but are almost always a major cause of lead toxicity. In most cases, symptoms are non-specific and can appear years after one suffers from a gunshot wound.
According to Debora Weiss, a CDC epidemiologist who works at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, common signs of lead poisoning include abdominal pain, memory loss and fatigue. Gunshot wounds cause 115000 injuries each year in the United States, and roughly 70% of these aren’t fatal. However, these bullets aren’t usually removed unless the procedure is easy, less painful and not dangerous, and in most cases, the bullets used aren’t lead free ammunition.
Weiss and her team consulted a database of lead toxicity in adults from 41 states. Out of the 145000 cases found, 450 could directly be attributed to bullet fragments that were left behind in the body.
The Damages Caused by Lead
Lead at any level is toxic. When the levels rise above 10 nanograms per decilitre, a person can suffer from issues such as miscarriages, brain damage, kidney damage and high blood pressure. In fact, 17 of the457 patients had levels of lead that were at least 8 times higher!
Lead doesn’t just affect adults and kids. It can also kill wildlife and affect nature. The bullets enter the blood streams of predators and scavengers as hunters often leave behind carcasses of prey animals. Lead even enters groundwater through weights that are commonly used in fish tackles or through fish that are already subjected to lead poisoning.
Young children and unborn babies are the most affected by this dangerous metal as it can easily destroy developing brain tissue and nerve cells and the effects simply cannot be reversed.