Changes in blood lead of a recreational shooter

Brian L. Gulson*, Jacqueline M. Palmer, Andrew Bryce

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    We have measured the concentration and isotopic composition of lead in blood over a 15-month period for a subject who undertook recreational shooting in outdoor and indoor firing ranges on an irregular basis. We have also measured the isotopic composition in cast lead, Cu-jacketed and Teflon-coated bullets, propellant and primer from which he assembled the cartridges. Blood lead concentration increased from 3.2 to 6.7 μg/dl with use of dominantly cast lead bullets in the outdoor range. In two intervals when no firing was undertaken for 3-4 months, the blood lead concentrations either decreased towards a baseline value in the case where only Cu-jacketed bullets were fired or remained elevated when dominantly cast lead bullets were fired. The propellants contained <2 ppm Pb and contribute negligibly to blood lead. The isotopic composition of the primer used for all bullets was consistent with a source from the US. The bullets were of different materials and made in Australia and the US, with lead from sources of different geological age and hence different isotopic signatures. Variations in blood lead concentration and isotopic composition appear most strongly influenced by the bullets. Although more expensive, the use of Cu-jacketed bullets, non-lead primers and well-ventilated indoor firing ranges would lessen the health impacts of recreational shooting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-150
    Number of pages8
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2002


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