What is food mineral?

Minerals are inorganic elements that originate in the earth and cannot be made in the body. They play important roles in various bodily functions and are necessary to sustain life and maintain optimal health, and thus are essential nutrients.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

History of lead poisoning

It is believed that mankind has used lead for over 6000 years. Lead was one of the first metals humankind learned to use due to its ease of extraction and its ductility. Lead mining probably predated the Bronze or Iron Ages, with the earliest recorded lead mine in Turkey about 6500 BC.

Both the Egyptians and Hebrews used lead and the Phoenicians mined lead ore in Spain around 2,000 BC. The oldest artifact of smelted lead is a necklace found in the ancient city site in Anatolia. The estimated age of this necklace is 6,000 to 8,000 years ago.

The history of lead poisoning is nearly 2,500 years old and the widespread use of lead has been a cause of endemic chronic plumbism in several societies throughout history.

The first clear descriptions of lead toxicity dated back to the second century BC, when the Greek philosopher Nikander of Colophon in 250 BC reported on the colic and anemia resulting from lead poisoning.

Hippocrates, in 370 BC, was probably the first to describe lead colic, without however recognizing the etiology. He related gout to the food and wine, though the association between gout and lead poisoning was not recognized during this period ( 450-380 BC).

In the 1st century AD Dioscorides saw the connection between lead exposure and toxic manifestations, and Pliny stated that lead poisoning was common in shipbuilding.

Later during the Roman period, gout was prevalent among the upper classes of Roman society and is believed to be a result of the enormous lead intake.

Since the first century BC, the use of lead in the Mediterranean basin has become more and more extensive due to the Romans' conquest of Britain, where the ores were particularly rich in lead, with a resulting increased availability of the metal itself.

The Romans shipped wines all over their empire, as far way as northern Germany. A preservative was needed to prevent bacteria from turning the wines into vinegar. It was the widely used wine preservative, the so-called sapa, a preparation of must (concentrate of grape juice), which was slowly cooked in lead containers. The final product, Sapa, is a sweet aromatic syrup containing about one gram of lead per liter.

Lead poisoning is believed to be primarily responsible for the collapse of the Roman Empire, in which lead acetate was used as a sweetener of wine. Its prolonged use was considered to have caused dementia to many Roman emperors.

In Middle Ages, lead acetate (lead sugar) was used as a sweetener of wine and ciders, and it caused severe epidemics of poisoning. In some German countries the problem was so severe that death penalty was prescribed, first in 1498 and later in 1577, for those caught mixing lead sugar into wine.

Among workers, the greatest exposure to lead were most likely the painters, because of the use of lead-based colors. Remarkable painters who became victims of lead poisoning may have been Piero della Francesca (c. 1416-1492), Rembrandt (1606-1669), and Francisco Goya (1746-1828). In addition, workers who engaged in other craft occupations were highly exposed to the metal.

In 1763, a physician at the court of King George III, discovering that lead fittings used to press cider caused an outbreak of colic. The great gout epidemics of the eighteenth century in England were traced to the popular port wines from Portugal which were heavily leaded.

Lead poisoning became common among industrial workers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when workers were exposed to lead while engaged in trades involving smelting, painting, plumbing, printing and many other industrial activities.

It was acknowledged in the early 1900s that lead-containing paint was a main source of lead poisoning among children and the use of paints indoors and on products such as children’s toys or cribs was banned in several countries by the end of the 1920s.
History of lead poisoning

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