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Tracking natural and anthropogenic Pb exposure to its geological source

Evans, Jane, Pashley, Vanessa, Madgwick, Richard ORCID:, Neil, Samantha and Chenery, Carolyn 2018. Tracking natural and anthropogenic Pb exposure to its geological source. Scientific Reports 8 , 1969. 10.1038/s41598-018-20397-y

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Human Pb exposure comes from two sources: (i) natural uptake through ingestion of soils and typified by populations that predate mining activity and (ii) anthropogenic exposure caused by the exposure to Pb derived from ore deposits. Currently, the measured concentration of Pb within a sample is used to discriminate between these two exposure routes, with the upper limit for natural exposure in skeletal studies given as 0.5 or 0.7 mg/kg in enamel and 0.5/0.7 μg/dL in blood. This threshold approach to categorising Pb exposure does not distinguish between the geological origins of the exposure types. However, Pb isotopes potentially provide a more definitive means of discriminating between sources. Whereas Pb from soil displays a crustal average 238U/204Pb (μ) value of c 9.7, Pb from ore displays a much wider range of evolution pathways. These characteristics are transferred into tooth enamel, making it possible to characterize human Pb exposure in terms of the primary source of ingested Pb and to relate mining activity to geotectonic domains. We surmise that this ability to discriminate between silicate and sulphide Pb exposure will lead to a better understanding of the evolution of early human mining activity and development of exposure models through the Anthropocene.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Q Science > QE Geology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QP Physiology
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 February 2018
Date of Acceptance: 17 January 2018
Last Modified: 13 May 2023 03:04

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