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It’s Hunting Season: Remember Safety First!


  • Gun bluing contains a variety of chemicals that can cause serious toxicity.
  • Some products can get into the lungs and cause pneumonia.
  • Safety first! Gun maintenance products must be stored out of sight and reach of children.

Hunting season is here in full force in Missouri. It takes a lot of work to get your equipment ready to take that perfect shot. But before you start, keep reading for special safety information about your hunting gear.


Gun bluing protects a gun from rust and corrosion, but it may be fatal to a small child who might mistake this liquid for something good to drink. Gun bluing contains a variety of acids and other chemicals which can cause serious burns if the label instructions are not followed about wearing protective gloves. The chemicals are very toxic and are rapidly absorbed if it is accidentally splashed or swallowed.

One of these chemicals is called selenious acid or selenium oxide. It changes the color of steel from silver-grey to blue-grey. It used in “cold-bluing” of metal parts of guns, such as the barrel. If ingested it can cause vomiting, a garlic odor on breath, metallic taste, burns throughout the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, throat, stomach), diarrhea, muscle spasms, and even death.


Gun cleaners, degreasers, and gun lubricants typically contain alcohols and petroleum distillates (also called hydrocarbons). If the child chokes on the chemical, there is a risk of aspiration, or getting the product in the lungs, which can cause pneumonia. A sign of aspiration is coughing, choking, difficulty breathing, sudden drowsiness, rapid breathing and wheezing. If these products do NOT get into the lungs, they aren’t absorbed well by the body and will usually pass through causing only minor symptoms such as upset stomach and diarrhea.


Other chemicals associated with hunting are gun powder and gun powder pellets which contain nitrates and other toxic chemicals. These can cause irritation of the mouth, upset stomach, and vomiting. Severe symptoms are not expected in accidental exposures.

Have a great hunting season but always remember safety first! Store gun maintenance products in a locked cabinet and out of a child’s sight and reach. Remember also to secure the gun itself with a trigger lock or store it in a locked cabinet.

If you have questions about hunting related products, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.  Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365.  The service is free and confidential.

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