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Rev Invest Clin. 2014 Jan-Feb;66(1):88-91.

[Brief history of lead poisoning: from Egyptian civilization to the Renaissance].

[Article in Spanish]


The exposition to lead in the Antiquity is one of the first environmental health risks in the history of the mankind. In the ancient cultures of Egypt, Crete and Sumer there was no reports of an important exposition to this metal. The first clinical data is described in the Corpus Hipocraticcus, however was Nicandrus of Colophon the first to make a thorough description of the clinical manifestations of this disease. There was an increase in the exposition to this metal in times of the Roman empire and even some researchers propose that Julius Cesar and Octavio had clinical manifestations associated with lead poisoning. Paul of Aegina in the 7th century (a.C.) describes the first epidemic associated with lead intoxication, however in the Middle Ages the use of lead decrease until the Renaissance period in which lead poisoning affects mostly painters, metal-smithers and miners. Some studies done in the ice-layers of Greenland showed that the environmental pollution by lead during the Roman empire and the Renaissance was important.

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