15. Childhood Lead Exposure in the British Isles during the Industrial Revolution
- Molly K. Zuckerman
Published Online: 14 MAR 2014
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
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
Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
- Published Online: 14 MAR 2014
- Published Print: 14 MAY 2014
Print ISBN: 9781118504208
Online ISBN: 9781118504338
- childhood lead exposure;
- industrial revolution
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.