Wednesday 18 July 2012

Taking the lead out of the pencil

Like to be one for all things natural and organic? It seems the Romans had a taste for healthy living too. Now a lot has been written about how their lead pipes poisoned the bally lot of them - dulling their minds and delivering terrible premature deaths. Oddly skeletal analysis doen't seem to suggest much in the way of heavy metal poisoning for the ancients, and nor were they oblivious to the danger. The famous First Century BC architect, Vitruvius, began recommending terracotta pipes, writing, "Water from clay pipes is much more wholesome than that which is conducted through lead pipes - since lead is found to be harmful as white lead is derived from it, which is said to harmful to the human system." Something to think about next time you pour some water from your organic clay water filter.

Postscript - It has been suggested the levels of disolvable lead fell as pipes aged, as they tended to gain a crust of calcium carbonate from the concrete aqueducts that prevented lead leaching. Either way, there are still Roman lead pipes carrying water to this day.

Find out if Calvus had too much lead in his system

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