Detectorists, Constipation and Joint Pains

2nd July 2015 — 38 Comments

Have you received your invite to my tea party?

Some people may think that I’m as mad as a hatter, completely bonkers … and they could be right. I’ve just had a ‘eureka’ moment and a possible reason for my aches and pains has occurred to me. Just recently I’ve been searching through my dirty old boxes, looking for neglected though interesting finds to post on my blog for your delight and delectation, and I’ve come to this conclusion …

The idea came to me from the story about mercury being used in the making of hats and how prolonged exposure affected the nervous system of the hatters, causing them to tremble and appear insane.

In my surveying of the boxes I came across an inordinate amount of lead. Detectorists unearth a lot of the stuff in the pursuit of their hobby; it can be seen as an occupational hazard. Can you see the way this is going? A lot of the metal we dig up is poisonous, and the oxidized forms are even worse.

I hate to think how, over a number of years, I have ingested small amounts of lead that have built up in my body and are perhaps responsible for the health problems I experience today. I cringe when, in detecting talks to groups, I handed round amorphous lumps of lead and asked the audience to imagine what the shape might represent.

Galena copy

Galena (Lead Ore) – © JW

As a young man, I investigated abandoned lead-crushing mills in County Durham’s Weardale. One of the souvenirs is sitting beside me now – a magnificent lump of galena mixed with other minerals like fluorspar. I proudly show it off to visitors and tell them that it’s a far better example than is exhibited in the British Museum.

Check this out. Lead poisoning symptoms in adults may include high blood pressure, constipation, joint and muscle pains, headache, memory loss and mood disorders. I suffer from at least two of those! Miscarriage or premature birth in women doesn’t affect me.

Time to close. I have stated facts and some of you may consider that I’ve sensationalised certain aspects; and you’d be right. I am reminded of the BBC’s Crimewatch UK television that concentrates on graphic stories of murder and mayhem. At the end of every episode, the former presenter Nick Ross would end each episode with these words: “Don’t have nightmares, do sleep well”. Don’t take what I have said too seriously. And remember, signs and symptoms usually don’t appear until dangerous amounts of lead have been accumulated.

Lead safety … did you know?
Many uses of lead and lead compounds have been discontinued or significantly reduced over the past few decades in response to health concerns. Some of these uses include lead in paints, motor vehicle fuels, solder, ammunition, fishing weights, ceramic glazes, pesticides, cosmetics, glass, plastics, alloys and many other products.


August Searcher Magazine

Cover_Aug_v6 copy 2

John Mills picture courtesy of Adam Staples



DetUKI was sorry to hear about the demise of the Detectorist forum, of which I was once an Administrator. They ‘set the standard’. Best of luck on FaceAche.

It is with deep regret that I tell you that John ‘Millsie’ Mills, the ‘cover boy’ shown above, died on the 2nd of February 2016. John was also a mudlark as well as detectorist and his wide circle of friends have lost one of the nicest, funniest, most generous and caring people you could ever hope to meet. In a Searcher obituary, Jon Adkin said: “Goodnight John, you were an inspiration to so many of your friends. Thank you for all the happy times we shared. Rest In Peace.”


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38 responses to Detectorists, Constipation and Joint Pains

  1. I suffer with joint and muscle pain,headaches, high blood pressure and deffo memory loss and bad mood swings.

  2. I thought it was mandatory that you grew extra body parts when taking up detecting??

    Must be the lead.


    Excellent blog as always Mr winter!!

  3. Just keep taking the tablets and carry on detecting.

    If it all ends in a field with mother nature all around what more could a man ask for. Jerry.

  4. Thank you for wishing Canada a Happy Birthday! You have fans here too!

  5. I think you covered your feelings on the loss of metal detecting forums here–

    I didn’t know you were an administrator on one but felt you were speaking with some knowledge. I was not a member of the one you are talking about here so I don’t feel like I’m part of the blame for that one going bye-bye.

    I use to think that ,naturally, people are going to want to post where they can get the most views. I don’t think that is going to happen on a facebook site unless someone is very popular so I think there will be people coming to the couple sites that hold the cards because they have the numbers.

    If the forum sites that have the numbers,although not the numbers they once had, can hold out they may see an increase someday. That will take people realizing they are not as popular as they thought. But it will also take people willing to get their little feelings hurt where they have no control over the site they participate in.

    It will be interesting to see if forums try to be like facebook (unfortunately some do) or if they will be different.

  6. So it’s Lead to blame for my replacement joints! Good job they use Titanium John! lol

  7. Lots of lead gets found in the Australian goldfields. I have never been a fan of biting the lumps to see what shows up.

  8. ‘lead white’ oil paint, (flake white) is a real problem to find because of the ban on lead carbonate (PbCO3) in other paints.
    it’s legal to use it in artists oil paint but the manufacturers of lead carbonate have disappeared.
    now your telling me my high blood pressure and mood disorders are because of it too? I thought it was because I can only get out detecting twice a month.

  9. Just recently I’ve been searching through my dirty old boxes. Is that a typo?
    Because I’ve been searching through my dirty old boxers. Just thought great minds think alike.

  10. thanks for your story John, must remember them gloves when I am next on the beach finding fishing sinkers.

    • I have never detected on a beach. but I’d have thought that gloves would be an essential item. Thanks for stopping by, Robert.

      No jokes because I reckon you’ve heard then all before! 🙂

  11. I wonder if it causes excessive weight gain too !!!

  12. There’s always the damage lead can do in pipe form, say by Col Mustard in the library… But other than ingestion via lead water pipes, I wonder whether the lead in gas pipes was picked up by the gas and then breathed in… Might explain a thing or two about my granny…

    Thanks again John!

    • Oh heck… When I got out of the chair after posting this, I headed off to wash the lead off my hands (I corrected myself)… It’s got me too! Either that or the mercury in my fillings!

  13. For those of us brought up in the time of lead water pipes it’s probably a bit too late to do anything. And in terms of lead entering the body, I would think that the rise of unleaded petrol has reduced overall exposure even for the most ardent digger of lead.

    There are some excellent correlations between the long term decline in violent crime and reducing atmospheric lead.

  14. marc (wolfiemac) 2nd July 2015 at 4:54 PM

    That’s why my memory is fading!! them bloody fishing sinkers I used as a kid while sea fishing….. ironic that I’m now finding them again detecting, or am I just finding the ones I lost 40 years ago .
    good read

  15. Interesting and rather scary point, John, though I think David Hodson is right to say that leaded petrol (and possibly paint) was the biggest source of lead for most people. Don’t suppose you could wangle a blood test?

  16. Thank you John I love reading your blogs/posts. And yet agin you’ve entertained me …
    Keep them coming my friend!!

  17. I live right in the middle of the Southeast Missouri Lead belt-

    Don’t click on the link as it’s kinda boring. Unless the Government or the old lead company is going to start sending compensation in the mail to all of us residents I’m not claiming any damages. I really don’t think it effected me,effected me, effected me. You people that don’t live here are the ones I’m not so sure about.

  18. I am sorry but this seems like a fluff filler piece for someone who has to write ,but has nothing to say. I usually enjoy your posts but this one fell flat.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mike.
      My scribblings don’t appeal to everybody, I know that.

    • I didn’t find anything wrong with this article, I have read John’s Blog since last winter and I think this is as good as the rest of them. It talked about something I have always been curious about.

  19. Interesting point, I have always though about the points you made. I have probably found 10 pounds of lead, I hope I don’t sprout a second head soon. As always, interesting article.

  20. Also, My house is from circa 1860’s, I’m pretty sure that the pipes have some lead in them. In the basement you can see the pipes and I’m pretty sure that the welding is lead on them

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