15. Childhood Lead Exposure in the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution

  1. Molly K. Zuckerman
  1. Andrew Millard1,
  2. Janet Montgomery1,
  3. Mark Trickett2,
  4. Julia Beaumont3,
  5. Jane Evans4 and
  6. Simon Chenery5

Published Online: 14 MAR 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118504338.ch15

Modern Environments and Human Health: Revisiting the Second Epidemiologic Transition

Modern Environments and Human Health: Revisiting the Second Epidemiologic Transition

How to Cite

Millard, A., Montgomery, J., Trickett, M., Beaumont, J., Evans, J. and Chenery, S. (2014) Childhood Lead Exposure in the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution, in Modern Environments and Human Health: Revisiting the Second Epidemiologic Transition (ed M. K. Zuckerman), John Wiley & Sons, Inc, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118504338.ch15

Editor Information

  1. Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Archaeology, Durham University, Durham, UK

  2. 2

    Department of Archaeology, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Charlottesville, VA

  3. 3

    Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK

  4. 4

    NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory, Keyworth, UK

  5. 5

    British Geological Survey, Keyworth, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2014
  2. Published Print: 14 MAY 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781118504208

Online ISBN: 9781118504338

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Keywords:

  • childhood lead exposure;
  • England;
  • industrial revolution

Summary

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.