Childhood lead exposure in the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution

Millard, Andrew; Montgomery, Janet; Trickett, Mark; Beaumont, Julia; Evans, Jane; Chenery, Simon. 2014 Childhood lead exposure in the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution. In: Zuckermann, Molly K., (ed.) Modern environments and human health : revisiting the second epidemological transition. Wiley, 269-289.

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This chapter analyzes the question of one anthropogenic cause of morbidity by measuring the exposure to a toxin, lead. It investigates the concentration of lead in the tooth enamel of 18th- and 19th-century individuals, using this as a proxy for lead exposure during childhood, and attempts to assess its impact on morbidity. Childhood exposure starts with exposure in the womb, as fetal blood lead levels are very close to maternal levels. Exposure to maternal lead will reduce with breast-feeding as little lead is transmitted in breast milk, but this is offset by a higher rate of absorption in the immature gut. The hand-to-mouth behavior of young children can also lead to oral exposure to lead-bearing objects. The industrialization that occurred in England during the 18th and 19th centuries has been characterized as the transition from an organic to mineral economy, with concomitant increase in coal use.

Item Type: Publication - Book Section
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Date made live: 14 Mar 2014 12:19 +0 (UTC)

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