Hobby Exposure


As with occupational exposure, hobbies involving lead can be extremely hazardous. Recognizing the risk associated with the hobby as well as practicing safe prevention techniques can help to reduce the chances of lead poisoning. The following hobbies have been associated with increased risk for lead poisoning:

Refinishing Furniture

The federal government banned residential lead-based paint in 1978. Up until that time stain and varnish used on furniture often contained lead. As a result, refurnishing furniture built before 1978 can be hazardous. Scraping and sanding the furniture can cause an airborne lead dust, which is easily inhaled. After inhalation, lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. If the lead concentration is high enough, health effects will occur. Practicing safe work standards will help prevent lead poisoning from occurring.

Hunting/Fishing

Hunting. Using lead bullets for hunting dramatically increases the risk of lead poisoning. Friction from the lead slugs against the gun barrel create airborne lead, which is easily inhaled. After inhalation, lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. If the lead concentration is high enough, health effects will occur. Frequent hunters Huntingshould monitor their blood lead levels by having periodic blood lead level tests.

Fishing. Sinkers containing lead are the primary source of lead poisoning in the fishing industry. There are several prevention techniques available to decrease exposure among frequent fishers. To avoid exposure to lead, be sure to always wash hands after using lead sinkers, especially before eating, drinking or smoking. Never put lead sinkers in your mouth as lead can leach out of the sinker and can be ingested.

CAUTION: Lead melts at a reasonably low temperature. This, along with the fact that lead is an extremely durable metal, makes lead an attractive metal used in both sinkers and bullets. Special precautions should be taken when melting lead and pouring sinkers or molding bullets. The process of melting lead causes a lead vapor, which is extremely poisonous. Melting lead should always occur in a well-ventilated area and in the absence of children and pregnant women as they are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead poisoning. Furthermore, a respirator should always be worn while dealing with lead components.

Stained Glass Making

Stained glass containing lead is hazardous to both consumers and those Making Stained Glassinvolved in the process of making stained glass. Soldering lead creates an extremely poisonous lead vapor which is easily inhaled. After inhalation, lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. It is important to remember to solder in well-ventilated areas whenever possible. Soldering should be done away from children and pregnant women and a respirator equipped with a HEPA cartridge filter should always be worn. Be sure to always wash hands before eating, drinking, smoking and leaving the designated work area to avoid lead ingestion.


Jewelry Construction

As with stained glass making, jewelry construction also involves lead soldering. When lead is melted, a lead vapor is created. This toxic lead vapor is readily inhaled. After inhalation, lead enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. It is important to remember to solder in well-ventilated areas away from children and pregnant women, and to always wear a respirator with a HEPA cartridge filter. Be sure to always wash hands before eating, smoking, and leaving the designated work area. This is necessary in prevention ingestion of lead.

CAUTION: There have been numerous reports of children nationwide found to have received lead poisoning through lead-containing jewelry. Lead has the potential to leach out of these products when the children put the jewelry in their mouths. The lead is ingested into the child’s bloodstream. Do not buy lead-containing jewelry for children. If you are unaware whether or not your child may have lead-containing jewelry, take the questionable piece of jewelry and rub it across a white cloth. If the jewelry leaves a mark, it may contain lead and should be kept out of reach of children.

Pottery and Ceramics

Pottery and ceramics containing lead are hazardous to both consumers and workers involved in the pottery and ceramics industry either through occupation or hobby. Pottery and CeramicsCeramics constructed using lead-containing frits and glazes expose individuals to the harmful effects of lead through the activities of mixing the frits and glazes, spraying, painting and other general handling of the materials. It is necessary to work in a well-ventilated area while wearing respirators equipped with HEPA cartridge filters. Remember to always wash hands before eating, drinking, smoking and leaving the designated work area. This helps eliminate the possibility of ingesting the lead and/or transferring the lead dust to other vicinities aside from the work area. Consumers should be cautious of lead-containing pottery and ceramics used as tableware. Lead can potentially leach out of these products into food or beverages. If ingestion occurs, lead then enters the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body. If the lead concentration is high enough, health effects will occur.

Firearm practice

Outdoor. Exploding primers containing lead styphnate and the friction from lead slugs against the gun barrel create airborne lead. As slugs hit the bullet trap of the range, lead dust is created. Depending on weather conditions, airborne lead can concentrate in outdoor ranges and contaminate the surrounding environment. High levels of dust in firing ranges can settle on the bodies and clothes of instructors and shooters where it can then be transferred to individuals’ cars and homes, creating a hazard to children and other family members.

Removing spent bullets can generate large quantities of lead dust. In order to reduce the hazards of lead poisoning in the firing range, bullet traps or steel backstops similar to those used in indoor ranges can be used instead of earthen backstops. The trap holds the bullets and fragments, minimizing the amount of lead pollution in the soil. Furthermore, using a bullet trap rather than an earthen backstop allows spent bullets to be recovered and sold without soil removal.

Indoor. As with outdoor firing ranges, exploding primers containing lead styphnate and the friction from lead slugs against the gun barrel create airborne lead. As slugs hit the bullet trap, walls, floor or ceiling of the range, lead dust is created. This dust can settle on the skin, hair, and clothes of shooters and can then be transferred to individuals’ vehicles and homes, exposing loved ones to the harmful effects of lead.

In order to avoid potential health problems, the firing range must be correctly ventilated. It is important that the ventilation system that serves the range area be completely separated from any ventilation for the rest of the building. Improperly cleaning the range can cause settled dust to become airborne which then increases the risk of lead poisoning. It is important to frequently clean the range using a vacuum cleaner equipped with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in order to remove lead-contaminated dust. If such a vacuum is not available, wet methods must be used to clean the range. Dry sweeping should never occur in a firing range.

CAUTION: Lead melts at a reasonably low temperature. This, along with the fact that lead is an extremely durable metal, makes lead an attractive metal used in bullets. Special precautions should be taken when melting lead and molding bullets. The process of melting lead causes a lead vapor, which is extremely poisonous. Melting lead should always occur in a well-ventilated area in the absence of children or pregnant women, as they are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead poisoning. Furthermore, a respirator should always be worn while dealing with lead components.


Bureau of Environmental Health
Curtis State Office Building

1000 SW Jackson, Suite 330
Topeka, KS 66612-1274
Phone: 1-866-865-3233
FAX: (785) 296-5594
BEH@kdheks.gov