Wednesday 20 March 2013
Take the lead
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 doesn'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 1st-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.
Mind you, it has been suggested the levels of soluble lead fell as pipes aged as they tended to gain a crust of calcium carbonate from the concrete aqueducts - which then reduced the amount of lead leaching into the water. Either way, there are still Roman lead pipes carrying water to this day...and being used. For more on Roman History, check out 'A Body of Doubt' - live on Amazon now or on YouTube