The following is a news release from the Gallatin City-County Health Department.
The Gallatin City-County Health Department has received reports from local health care
providers of at least 22 people with elevated levels of lead in their bloodstream, a risk
factor for potentially serious health problems. Most or all of the individuals affected work or have worked for USA Brass Company Inc, a Bozeman-based firm that cleans and re-sells used ammunition casings.
Local health officials in Gallatin County are working with company management to inform and educate those who have worked at USA Brass, or who live with someone who works at USA Brass.
"We recommend that those who are concerned about possible exposure discuss the issuewith their health care provider," said Matt Kelley, MPH, Health Officer in Gallatin County. "
A simple blood test can help determine whether someone has been exposed to lead and if they require additional treatment." People who are exposed to lead at work are usually exposed by working in air that contains lead particles or dust. Families of workers may be exposed to higher levels of lead when workers bring home lead dust on their work clothes or equipment, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Workers can protect their families by showering and changing clothes before leaving work, and bagging their work clothes before they are brought home for cleaning.
Initially, lead poisoning can be hard to detect-even people who seem healthy can have
high blood levels of lead. Signs and symptoms usually don't appear until dangerous
amounts have accumulated.
Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause damage over time, especially in children. The greatest risk is to brain development, where irreversible damage may occur. Higher levels can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. Very high lead levels may cause seizures, unconsciousness and possibly death, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Pregnant women are also at greater risk as lead can pass from a mother to her unborn
baby. Too much lead in the body can put women at risk for miscarriage or premature birth, damage a baby's brain, kidneys, and nervous system, or cause a child to have learning or behavior problems. Lead poisoning can happen if a person is exposed to very high levels of lead over a short period of time.When this happens, a person may feel abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue and weakness, headache, loss of appetite, memory loss, or pain or tingling in the hands and/or feet.
Those concerned about possible exposure to lead should contact their health care provider.
Those in need of a health care provider can seek care at the following clinics:
Montana Occupational Health, located at 536 N Cottonwood in Bozeman, specializes
in workplace and occupational health needs. 406-556-1900
Community Health Partners, a full-service federally-qualified community health
center that serves all people regardless of ability to pay, with clinics in Bozeman,
Belgrade, and Livingston. Call (406) 585-1360 (Bozeman) or (406) 922-0820
Those seeking additional information on lead exposure can visit the following internet