The first medical hypotheses related to lead poisoning were formulated during the Renaissance. From this period on, the medieval artisans acquired the dignity of artists and their professional life became worthy of being studied and analyzed. The economic and cultural development in the fifteenth century drew workshop instructors and young apprentices into big cities, where they were engaged in the decorations of cathedrals and mansions of the new emerging masses, consisting of the commercial and financial middle-upper class. Among workers, the greatest exposure to lead were most likely the painters, because of the use of lead-based colors, including lead carbonate or cerussite (also known as “white lead”), a substance which was irreplaceable with the realization of the color “white” until the nineteenth century. Remarkable painters who became victims of lead poisoning may have been Piero della Francesca (c. 1416-1492), Rembrandt (1606-1669), and Francisco Goya (1746-1828). In addition, workers who engaged in other craft occupations were highly exposed to the metal. For example, in 1473, the German physician, Ulrich Ellenbog (1440-1499) pointed out to the goldsmiths and metalworkers the benefit of preventive measures to avoid poisoning and subsequent death arising from lead and mercury; he practically advised them “to keep the windows open” and “to cover the mouth with a rag” while working with metals.
In addition, during the Renaissance, there was a strong interest for metals, certainly influenced by alchemy; in this regard, we must mention the “De Re Metallica” (1556), written by the Saxon physician Georgius Bauer (better known as Agricola, 1494-1556), pioneer of the study of health problems amongst German miners. Considering the described scenario, the inclusion of lead, mercury, and arsenic in the pharmacopoeia of the German-Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus (1493-1541) might appear as a counter-current theory, but it has to be considered in compliance with his own principle, “dosis sola facit, ut venenum not fit” (“only the dose permits something not to be poisonous”). The theories of Paracelsus, while representing the basis for the future development of toxicology, were bitterly criticized and condemned by the scientific world at the time. Two centuries later, in 1656, Samuel Stockhausen, a German physician openly against the Paracelsian medical model, advised the miners of the mining town of Goslar to avoid the aspiration of dusts, attributing the etiology of miners’ asthma to the “noxious fumes” of a lead compound, the litharge. In the following decades, the “Transactions of the Royal Society of England” published numerous articles about the risks of the manufacturers of white lead and glass. Meanwhile, Bernardino Ramazzini (1633-1714) identified all the lead processing techniques, used by potters, tinsmiths, and painters, as dangerous. In his “De Morbis Artificum Diatriba” (1700), the Italian physician said about the workers in metal mines, “since […] the use of metals is practically indispensable in all kinds of production, their health deserves attention and their illnesses ought to be studied so precautions and remedies may be offered.” In particular, Ramazzini stated about the potters who worked with lead, “first of all they suffer from palsied hands, abdominal colic, fatigue, cachexia, and they lose their teeth. It is, therefore, extremely rare that one can see a potter who does not have a lead-coloured, cadaverous looking face.”
Kicked Out of Heaven Vol. II
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The Untold History of The White Races cir. 700 – 1700 a.d.
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Kicked Out Of Heaven Vol. II: The Untold History of The White Races cir. 700-1700 a.d. is a 3 volume series that will be released one by one. This book details everything about European society and mentality. In this edition you will find these facts: Alcoholism & The Blue Devils, Insanity & Lead Poisoning, Ergot (LSD) Hallucinations, The Sweating Sickness & Leprosy, The Tobacco Enema & Leeches, The Defloration Mania, The Dancing Mania, The Black Death, The Gravediggers & Body Snatchers, Jews Poisoning the Wells, Millions of Deaths, Folklore & Superstition, Magic Mirrors & Crystal Balls, Witches Dancing in Baby Blood, Pants Made of Human Skin, Necromancy & Ghost Armies, Attacks from The Undead, Lycanthropy & Were-Wolves, Multiple Cases of Vampires, Who is Satan, Lucifer & The Devil!
WJW FOX 8 News Cleveland: Target, Walmart, importer sued over lead in toys.