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Lead Sources and Health

  • By: Paul Richard Saunders
  • In: Green Health: An A-to-Z Guide
  • Edited by: Oladele Ogunseitan
  • Subject:Environmental Technology, Policy & Management, Geography of Health

Plumbum, Pb, or lead, the 82nd element, is usually found in the Earth's crust as lead sulphide or galena and in the atmosphere as lead sulphate or lead carbonate. Lead is malleable, has a low melting point, and therefore has many uses. Lead poisoning may be the oldest industrial disease because humans have used lead for over 8,500 years. There are many sources of lead exposure, and most humans have elevated lead levels or lead stores. Lead poisoning was first described in 250 B.C.E. from a case of leadinduced anemia and colic. Despite this report, it was used to sweeten wine (lead acetate) that was known to cause gout and colic and to make skin ointments and kitchen utensils.

Lead is an almost ubiquitous pollutant. A ...

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