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Lead is even deadlier than was feared (theguardian.com)
227 points by Mononokay on March 18, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 174 comments

I was actually pondering something related today. I worry about my cats' paws getting glass in them. Because the pavement is full of tiny pieces of glass, even worse if someone breaks a bottle outside, they won't actually vacuum and clean it up, I guess wind can help a bit..but it's just shuffling the glass around. Glass doesn't decay on a human time scale.

Which brought me to the grim fact that there are so many substances that do not decay in a reasonable time..that you are pretty much stuck with them in your body if they somehow get there. With glass, at least if you realize early enough, you can yank it out. And some people say that 10 or 20 years after getting glass stuck in them, that it came to the surface of their skin on a random day.

Which brings me to thinking about if we'll ever be able to truly know what substances are doing to our bodies in full fidelity. Like, some people believe that food colorings are unhealthy - will there eventually be a time where we have a machine, you stand in it and eat the fruit snacks and we get a full picture of where every molecule of titanium dioxide is headed? ..Imagine, we see a HUD of a human body, and a heatmap, overlaying that 99.95% goes to the kidneys but we see that 0.05% gets stuck in the prefrontal cortex of the brain in a peculiar area. We test more people and see that they also get the deposits in the same area...something we thought was totally harmless turns out to be depositing itself in some arcane area by some arcane mechanism... Yes, I eat fruit snacks and I don't think this is the case...it's just a silly hypothetical situation. And I am aware of fluorescent tagging technology which can do something similar but sometimes poorly, because ultimately it is modifying the original molecule. (Incompleteness sucks doesn't it?)

Maybe some day..

Glass does not have to decay. It is chemically basically the same as sand. So as long as it does not have larger sharp edges, it is a normal part of nature.

yup, glass is about as inert a substance as you can get - one of the reason's it's used for containers of non-inert chemicals :)

That said, "normal part of nature" doesn't mean non-toxic. There are plenty of toxic things found lying around in nature.

> Glass doesn't decay on a human time scale.

It doesn't oxidize.

I bet if you find any in the environment (excluding freshly broken glass on the street and that sort of thing) you'll find something where the sharpness of the edge has abraded away. If you're on a beach or near a creek, you'll possibly find something that looks dull and round and more like a pebble.

Yeah it’s already oxidized. Silicon dioxide is pretty much at the bottom of the energy well. The only other place to go is for SiO2 to react with fluorine.

At least broken glass doesn't stay sharp for long when exposed to the elements.

Why wouldn't it? Archaelogists find obsidian blades thousands of years old that still have an edge.

Anything out on a (well traveled) sidewalk is going to be constantly moved around by traffic (and weather) causing it to abrade against the sidewalk itself (and whatever else is around) causing it to 'weather' away (round off).

Pretty much anything old we find like those knives are pretty much guaranteed to have been essentially buried all at once, and then left more or less undisturbed from that moment on. Minimal physical movement, minimal abrasion, minimal dulling of edges.

Archaeologists look in places where objects have not been exposed to the elements.

How sure are you about this? The walk I had barefoot on a street in Brooklyn ended in a multitude of sharp embedded glass and other objects. And this was a clean street..without people dropping bottles on the ground constantly.

EDIT: to all those downvoting me, a fucking veteran glassblower says that glass takes forever to erode.. https://www.quora.com/How-long-does-broken-glass-take-to-bre...

A nice soft forest floor described in that link is a completely different environment than an urban street/sidewalk. Glass would erode completely differently in those environments. Of course even in an urban environment the average piece of glass would still take a long long time to have its sharp edges smoothed. I can't disagree with the idea that walking around barefoot in the city is not the best idea ;P

Depends on the environment, of course. In the ocean or Lake Superior, sharp glass gets rounded to smooth pebbles within 100 years. I’d estimate the sharp edges take 20-30 years to disappear. Sitting still on a street, of course, not much will happen.

As far as areas of expertise, I am a veteran (20 years) glassblower, but I am not an expert on how glass decays at all. I’m skilled at making it into things.

It's interesting that aircraft still use leaded fuel. From what I can tell this is ultimately due to cost concerns.

Only in priston engines, and it’s mostly due to the fact that changing the engines, which are currently reliable and in many cases have been for decades, could introduce new issues. It’s a snails pace industry due to safety and reliability concerns for the most part. It’s super annoying because i always want the best new thing to go with a plane, but when you’re in the cockpit, it’s comforting knowing the plane is 8000 hours in and nothing significant has changed since it was initially made (other than what was mandated by the maker) so it’s probay going to be fine for your 1.5 hour flight.

Also, most small airports only carry one fuel, i imagine those making new planes don’t get customers excited about planes you cannot take everywhere due to limited availability of fuels.

I love/hate flying for all these reasons.

Some engines (such as Rotax) can be run on mogas, available at gas stations. Obviously you then need to transport it to the airport yourself, which isn't always convenient.

Rotax can run on either MoGas or 100LL, so if you're at an airport that doesn't offer MoGas you can just fill up with AvGas and go.

Doesn't most mogas STC's cover only alcohol-free gas, which AFAIK is increasingly hard to acquire in many places?

It seems that longer term, in many places of the world, particularly outside the US, the answer is diesel aero engines, which can run on jet fuel.

You can actually still buy leaded fuel for automotive use in the UK, although it is very expensive and limited to few garages around the country - basically it serves extremely limited group of antique vehicles which are kept in original state - unmodified engines which have to run on leaded petrol.


Is there a reason to use actual leaded gas rather than a lead substitute? I don't know that much about classic cars but my dad uses a lead substitute for his as opposed to actual lead.

“Simply put, unleaded fuel burns less smoothly than leaded and the toluene and benzene, which is added to the fuel to act as a lead substitute, burns to form what are called peroxides. Unfortunately peroxides are inherently unstable and explode, forming shock waves that cause detonation. This explains why engines designed to run on unleaded from the outset feature sophisticated knock sensors, which retard the ignition setting at the onset of harmful detonation.”


Right, but that article goes on to talk about various non-lead substitutes you should add... I know why unleaded vs leaded, but there are substitutes for lead that are designed for use in classic cars but don't actually contain lead, that's what I was asking the difference of.

Basically, why use actual lead in gas when lead substitute exists and is recommended for classic cars as an additive to unleaded fuel?

I believe that lead in petrol / gasoline still exists as there are not one but two effects from lead.

One is that lead helps promoting burning of the gasoline versus explosion or knocking.

Two is that lead is a great lubricant for the valve surfaces, preventing them eroding, leaking or sticking as they open / close. Eroding causes the engine to lose compression and efficiency, and sticking (as I have experienced first-hand) can cause a major engine failure by breaking the mechanism that opens/closes the valve.

This is correct, but it's also been overstated how important the lubricating properties of leaded gasoline were in these engines - while the harmful health effects were understated. [1]

[1] www.walshcarlines.com/pdf/mechanicalimplications.d4e.pdf

I've found it varies by engine type. International Harvester light line SV engines for example definitely benefit from lead additives to fuel. Zinc additives in oil is another 'be kind to your engine' additive https://zddplus.com

Engines of previous eras were designed to leverage the 'lead' in gasoline as a lubricant and act as a 'cushion' to the valve seats and valves as the fuel flowed through the engine. Not adding a 'lead' substitute can damage your valves, and ethanol is to be avoided at all costs to protect the engine.

Engine 'knock' (multiple explosions on a single piston ignite cycle as different pockets of fuel mixture ignite) is also minimized by having 'lead' in the fuel.

Have '48 Chevy - can confirm that lead-substitute exists and classic cars will run with it. I never use the car without it so its possible the stuff doesn't actually do anything.

I suspect(and this is just my guess) that if you have a true classic that is worth millions of pounds, you don't want to risk running it on additives - so for those extremely rare occasions when you want to start the engine(car shows usually) you might as well run it on the £5/litre genuine leaded petrol.

The engines used in most small aircraft are basically unchanged since the 1950s or 60s. Aircraft are required to have regular maintenance, including major overhauls, so while these engines are archaic in terms of technology they keep running fine and have a track record of reliability. Newer designs would have to be certified by the FAA, which is apparently an extremely expensive process. General aviation is already so expensive that it's inaccessible to most people, so no one really wants to push the price tag up even more.

Lead is still used all over the place in he USA. Its very concerning. You have to specifically look for lead free versions. Examples:

* "fake" christmas decorations (trees, wreaths) often contain lead

* Garden hoses almost always contain lead

A lot of these are vastly less dangerous than the use of tetraethyl lead in gasoline or other forms in which significant quantity can be easily taken up by the body (e.g. the old white lead carbonate paint pigment).

While it's reasonable to be extra careful with small children that might put decorations in their mouth, small amounts of lead in vinyl products (or more significant amounts in machined brass products) do not necessarily result in significant dosage in people who handle or use those products.

Perhaps. From the article "Last week, a massive new study concluded that lead is 10 times more dangerous than thought, and that past exposure now hastens one in every five US deaths."

I drank from garden hoses all the time as a kid :-(

Gotta wonder what that did to the brain pan.

Most electrical cords have it in them as well. Believe stuff from IKEA doesn't though as it meets EU standards.

Look for "RoHS"[1] on labels and electronics. That governs a list of materials, but I suspect the most common is lead. Among other things, this is the origin of significant usage of lead-free solder, which has led to its own set of issues in electronics (brittle joins, tin whiskers, etc).

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restriction_of_Hazardous_Sub...

Lead-free solder has since improved greatly. These days it's pretty hard to discern from leaded tin other than the fact that joints tend to not be glossy.

Especially if you're a hobbyist: Go for lead free solder. it's no worse to work with than leaded but a whole lot less toxic. (Still don't breathe the fumes though, solder flux is nasty stuff)

Seems there was a lot of hoopla about lead-free solders back in the day, but it seems industry did figure out such solders and protocols to use them properly, and contrary to various predictions, the sky hasn't fallen.

Looking at the state of e-waste "recycling" in 3rd world countries, I personally think it was darn good we got rid of lead solder.

What is still a safe lead blood value?

And is there any merit in "chelation" therapies, as advocated on health websites, like this one, [1]?

[1] https://www.livestrong.com/article/199912-what-natural-herbs...

There is not, insofar as lead tends to be either inspired or ingested in contaminated water. For most people, it's the former. The "oral chelators" just bind lead that is mixed in with them, stopping you from absorbing as much of it. That is, Senapati 2001 (the garlic-rat study) didn't give lead acetate in the morning and garlic in the afternoon; they intentionally mixed the two together.

That is, oral intake of lead with oral intake of garlic, means maybe you shit out more lead with the garlic chelation agent. But lots of garlic will do nothing for water you drink later in the day, or the air passing into your lungs.

There may be some additional anti-oxidant activity. Anti-oxidants are good for you across the board. Have at them.

As to a safe blood lead level: depending on your local public health department, 5 mcg/dL will or should prompt public health action. <5mcg will usually prompt a doctor to start trying to figure out where you're exposed, and cut that exposure out. >5mcg turns into a little bit of a grey area depending on where you are, and by 10mcg your kid is getting chelation therapy. These numbers are built around children, not adults, because they're far more susceptible to the adverse effects of lead exposure.

That said, we have not identified any safe lead level - every level that has been tested has been shown to be associated with some sort of negative cognitive developmental impact (Lanphear 2000). I feel comfortable saying the safe level is "0", but that's not medical consensus, that's just my opinion.

Just adding to your comment. Govt regulation for lead workers where I worked was about 1.4 micro mols of lead.

Which is just an arbitrary number the government came up with because zero is obviously unreasonable for lead workers..

There is merit to chelation therapy as a means of eliminating mercury (and other heavy metals including lead) stored in the body, but many protocols, both alternative and conventional, don't consider the full complexities involved and can be more harmful than beneficial.

There are a number of relevant factors including length of exposures (acute or chronic poisoning) and form of metal (organic, inorganic, metallic - for mercury at least).

By far the best source I found on the topic is Andrew Cutler, a chemistry PhD from Princeton who was mercury poisoned himself and created an effective and safe protocol for removal. He has a strong background in kinetics, pharmacokinetics, and biochemistry in general, and recognized that the standard toxicological protocols for heavy metal treatment were very dangerous (e.g. infrequent high dose IV administrations of DMPS/DMSA) , especially for cases of chronic poisoning.

According to Cutler, protocols such as the one you linked are very dangerous as they don't administer the chelating agent according to its metabolic half-life in the body (the half-lives of the chelating agents in cilantro and chlorella are unknown). As a result blood levels of the chelating agent and the metals fluctuate greatly. This can mobilize previously sequestered metals, but not provide the body enough time to properly eliminate them, which results in "re-poisoning" events. And when a large amount fat-loving free metals are released by the chelating agents within a short period of time, they often enter the central nervous system, settle there and exacerbate neurological symptoms.

I have no background in chemistry, so that's my summary of what I've read. But I highly recommend his book [1] which focuses mostly on mercury, but he covers lead as well. There are a few interviews with him around the web as well [2]. Also happy to provide more info and sources as I have two of his books and they both cite a wide array of sources.

[1] http://www.noamalgam.com/

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8AQGrh0XMw&t=34s

Hi, thanks, I know it's well-intended, but I can't find Cutler's work on PubMed, so I'm still wondering how legitimate this work is.

As I understand it, pubmed (and medline) only index a subset of medical research, and excludes most non-medical science research. As Cutler was a chemist, I'm not sure any articles of his would be indexed by pubmed.

Scopus, which seems to be run by Elsevier, lists some abstracts and letters here (I have no idea how extensive this is) [1]

[1] https://www.scopus.com/authid/detail.uri?authorId=7103370042

Here is a small list of chelation agents hosted by the WHO: http://www.who.int/selection_medicines/committees/expert/18/...

I guess chelation/elimination does work if the WHO writes about it.

AFAIK lead is also stored in bones and probably within body tissues, so this might take a while.

"Looking back, it seems insane. Bluntly put, we took a known poison and – for three quarters of a century – used it in machines that puffed it out in breathable form. Then we drove them millions of miles a day, all over the world, regularly dosing billions of people with the toxin."

We are still doing just that, even though we are using milder poisons now.

Well given that asbestos were known to be cancerous almost a century before we ban it, I'd say it's just the way we usually do things: use what's convenient until the cost is too high.

Want to feel a bit concerned? Carbon fiber particulate (such as what you get from sawing or sanding it) is as bad as asbestos. We love carbon fiber these days. Most of the time it is sequestered safely away in resin, but it's absurdly simple to free it.

Can you point to a study backing up this claim?


Second link in a search containing solely "carbon fibre asbestos". It's a fairly well known problem. The problems with carbon fibre (and asbestos, for that matter) is not that it's somehow poisonous, but that the particles are so fine and long and strong that they cause problems with your lungs. They can't be absorbed, they can't be expelled; their structure makes them an irritant that can't be removed by the body's natural processes.

Asbestos is still manufactured and sold in some countries. Crazy I know.

As it's a naturally occuring mineral, you can't avoid it completely. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/asbestos-found-nevada-...

San Benito Mountain in central California has naturally occurring asbestos levels that are so high that no public access was allowed for years (historically, it was a popular off-roading area). More recently, public access is allowed, but you are only permitted to visit the site 5 times per year (the BLM keeps track).

Well then, if it's a naturally occurring mineral, we might as well just spread it around all over the place!

> As it's a naturally occuring mineral, you can't avoid it completely

Isn't that also true of Lead?

Only until we figure out how to transmute it to gold.

We already know how (bombard it with Calcium-48 in a particle accelerator, or stick it in a nuclear reactor), but it’s not cost effective.

Actually, there is a startup that's about to make it cost-effective through blockchain-based crowdsharing:

Lava is naturally occurring... Yet I do a pretty good job of avoiding it.

Chrysotile "white asbestos" is the only type still legally allowed, because various studies have found it to be far less carcinogenic than the other types --- AFAIK crocidolite ("blue asbestos"), the most carcinogenic, has been banned completely.


General Aviation (private planes) are STILL spewing lead into the atmosphere. It's not like they don't have the money to fix it, they just don't care about the externalities.

There is currently a strong effort to move away from leaded fuels, and multiple producers have been selected by the FAA to formulate and sell fuel blends that present the desired octane ratings and are proven safe. The fist certifications of such fuels is expected this year:


From the linked article, it's nice to see they moderated to a "fuel formulation change + limited engine modifications" approach.

It seems unwise, chemically speaking, to expect we'll be able to find a drop in replacement that's less toxic (vs creating something that we find out is toxic in another 50 years).

Seems fatalistic to assume that getting rid of TEL will automatically mean it'll be replaced with something equally nasty, or even worse.

I don't think it's out of the question that improvements in refining technology has made it possible and economical enough to create a fuel with a high enough octane rating without resorting to TEL or other metal-organic additives. E.g. the Shell stuff that is being investigated by the FAA PAFI project is rumored to be based on super-alkylate + aromatics.

I should moderate my comment a bit. I'm not expecting the replacement to be equally or more toxic, but I have skepticism that it's going to be non-toxic.

Presumably you're tangential to the chemical-synthesis industry? It seems like there's a disturbingly low bar for "We found a compound that will do a thing! Okay, as long as it isn't food / a drug / incorporates already banned substances... put it into production!" (20 years pass) Substantial toxicity found.

Well, sure it's going to be toxic. Drink enough gasoline and you'll die, whether it's aviation gasoline or not. And aromatics are carcinogenic etc. (then again, aromatics are present in many other fuels such as regular gasoline and kerosine). I think the best one can hope for is that the 100LL replacement won't be significantly nastier than regular car gasoline. But already that would IMHO be a significant step forward compared to the status quo.

And no, I don't work for the chemical industry, or anything related to that really. But yes, I've heard of such cases where the replacement for some banned product turns out to be even worse. I do think one should be very careful about trusting environmental statements by the chemical industry, or any industry for that matter. Just like one shouldn't trust them blindly, I don't think a blanket dismissal of anything new they are doing is warranted either.

It's very hard to change anything in GA. Reliability is a much higher priority in aviation, if the engine in your car dies, you stop, if the engine in your plane dies, you fall out of the sky.

GA planes also generally last a lot longer than cars, you have Cessnas from the 70's still flying with their original engines from the 70's.

> from the 70s

"But they still work!" is not a good excuse to pollute.

I agree, but it's a better reason than most excuses to pollute which tend to boil down to "because I want to". At least airlines are working (slowly) to fix the problem.

No, if the engine in your plane dies you glide.

And if you’re over water, mountains or generally unfriendly land...you probably want to glide longer than you actually can.

Depends on the plane and your definition of gliding.

Which means you better have somewhere you can land in range of 200 kilometers if we are talking about passenger liners.

Don't industries that require high levels of reliability schedule replacement of aging equipment, rather than continued repairs to keep old equipment running?

Not really in aviation. Even commercial airliners are often decades old (and as a passenger, you can't really tell unless you know what to look for). They do reach a point where replacement with newer technology makes economic sense, but they can basically be maintained indefinitely.

That's not entirely accurate. Pressurized aircraft hulls are limited by the total number of pressurization cycles they can be subjected to. Everything else is repaired, overhauled, or replaced, but a total overhaul of an airliner haul is just not economically feasible, so at that point the entire aircraft is basically scrapped.

You still have Cessnas from the 60s in my local club!

If you have money, you’re flying a jet or a turboprop, burning jet fuel (kerosene) which contains no lead.

Only the smallest private planes run on piston engines, whose owners don’t really have money to “fix it”, especially because FAA regulations for certification of new planes and engine designs make everything cost about 10x what it should.

What are the poisons of today that we allow?

I general, from what I've gathered, we have been replacing substances that accumulates in nature with substances that breaks down over time. So for instance, we still do allow ozone but also watch the levels to ensure they aren't too high.

I know there are issues with a lot of medication as it goes out in the sewage and there's still a big question mark on the safety of some modern materials such as nano particles. However, the overall the feeling I get is that the awareness of the dangers with allowing use of poisonous substances is a lot higher today than before. I'm interested in hearing about the exceptions.

Read up on BPA, drinking from plastic bottles and other endocrine disruptors we still allow in our food supply. As a side note, a lot of people think more quantity = more poisonous. This is not always the case as a small amount can mimic a hormone wrecking our hormone levels over time.

BPA and other xenoestrogens scare me the most. Men's sperm counts have gone down 50% in the last 30 years, nobody knows why, but the estrogens in our products/water/air aren't out of the question.

It's scary how little it scares everyone else.

With an ever expanding world population, possibly on the verge of unsustainable, would a plummeting birth rate necessary be a bad thing? Sure it would mean redesigning how we see the world (the retirement and economic models), but we can either tackle it now or when it's forced upon us.

Well if the only effect was a plummeting birth rate, then maybe it wouldn't be bad, but it's also been testosterone levels that have dropped considerably[1], which according to that site "[decreased testosterone] is often associated with diabetes, abdominal obesity, sexual dysfunction, depression and other adverse conditions."

There have also been increases in those who identify as LGBT[2]. Such massive increases in younger generations can't be explained away by cultural changes IMO. I don't think it's a coincidence that at the same time that exposure to hormonal disruptors has increased, changes in gender and drops in testosterone have been found.

[1] https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/hormone-therapy/news/pr...

[2] http://news.gallup.com/poll/201731/lgbt-identification-rises...

Though this topic is incredibly sensitive, it needs to be considered. On a somewhat related note, boys who are prenatally exposed DES (a strong estrogen) while pregnant are significantly more likely to be transgender.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diethylstilbestrol [See Des Sons]

Are you sure it couldn't be explained by cultural changes? Perhaps the numbers were always there, but higher cultural tolerance has simply brought more out of the closet? At the very least I would expect that to be a contributing factor.

I remember reading about how the increase in mental illness could just be that we are better at diagnosing and recognizing them (and lazy doctors who would rather just prescribe something for your "depression").

No I'm not sure, nor is anyone. But having 1.4% of boomers and 7.3% of millennials identifying as LGBT is a _massive_ difference. Homosexuality is something that by all indications causes incredible mental anguish by suppressing, and from what we understand doesn't really change over a lifetime. Wouldn't we see a massively large number of older people coming out of the closet? Would it really be surprising if endocrine disruptors could have such a massive impact?

I'm not married to either reason, but I'm just feeling very skeptical about your assumption.

A) I don't think we would see a massive number of older people coming out of the closet, because this culture change is generational. Most of your peers aren't going to change their minds just because a younger generation is more tolerant. It's the same reason my 100 year old (really!) grandmother may still use the occasional racial slur. I definitely think there's more peer friction for an older LBGT individual than a younger one.

B) I don't think these numbers are actually out of line with the impact of cultural change.

C) Base on your linked datas, religion may also be a factor. Given that religion is on the decline in the US, especially among millennials, I wouldn't rule that out as a factor either.

It's probably a combination of factors as usual, and maybe endocrine disruptors is one of them.

My understanding is that medically speaking, increasing your testosterone levels is something you can do fairly easy, compared, say, to dealing with the cognitive impairment caused by heavy metal poisoning.

>Men's sperm counts have gone down 50% in the last 30 years, nobody knows why, but the estrogens in our products/water/air aren't out of the question.

I... guess I don't really see this as nearly as scary as "impaired mental development in children" or "increased cancer rates for everyone" - I mean, sure, if you can't have children after medical intervention, that's a problem; but I'm not sure that requiring medical intervention to have a child is in and of itself a particularly bad thing. it's not something you want to do by accident, and raising a child is incredibly expensive; adding a bit to the up-front cost seems a lot less scary than adding to the costs down the line (I mean, through the development problems caused by lead.)

Also we vastly increased our intake of things like high-fructose corn syrup and sitting on our asses all day leading to "metabolic syndrome", which might play a role.

Thanks for sharing, this should be required reading.

You're kind to say that, but I literally just meant it was interesting. I don't know how reliable it is. I search for things debunking the endocrine disruptor claim and found it, and it didn't ring any credibility alarm bells.

long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (C8 , involved in the production of teflon) see https://theintercept.com/2015/08/11/dupont-chemistry-decepti...

Nictonoides in general (pesticides) are poisons, which we don't ingest directly but still spew in the environment.

A poison we monitor and accumulates in the environment but don't regulate to the level it deserve given the damage it causes is of course CO2, as well as the other greenhouse gases (SO2, NOx etc... as produced by ships and planes).

It's inaccurate and misleading to call CO2 a poison in the context of climate change. Yes, it's a poison at high concentrations (as is just about everything), but the concentration required to cause climate change is way lower.

In the case of exhaust fumes in particular: Nitrogen oxides.

Though to be fair, the latest EU standards demand diesels have ‘Ad blu’ tanks that add Urea to the catalytic converts, mitigating most NOx emissions. So at least we are doing something about it.

But it’s no good when manufacturers program their cars to inject too little urea, or turn urea injection off on the highway, etc.


Time will tell, but maybe microplastic. WHO just started a review on the topic: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/15/micropla...

Mercury: Dental amalgams (aka silver fillings) Pesticides and herbicides

Probably most common in food industry now: palm oil.

Nanoparticles of soot, magnetite, and other industrial atmospheric pollutants.


We already accept the impact of millions a year dying as a result of industrial pollution, especially from burning coal; we mostly shrug and move on.

VOC’s, microplastic, nanoparticles such as TiO2, a lot of the crap in cosmetics, and probably a lot more.

>We already accept the impact of millions a year dying as a result of industrial pollution...

We accept them because the mainstream narrative does not make a big issue of it. On the other side, we make a big deal when there is a measles death, calling for death of anti-vaxxers, because the mainstream narrative suggests so...

In other words, the public, including the people here. is a bunch of morons who won't jump away from the path of a slow moving road roller, unless the mainstream narrative tells us to do so...

As for who decides the main stream narrative, I would say the ones with the most resources...

Industrialization has many positive aspects. Its byproducts may lead to some deaths, but they also lead to saved or longer lives for many. There is a decent chance that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Measles...it's hard to make a case that the benefits of getting measles outweigh anything.

This is my viewpoint as well, with the additional though that where we can reduce the negative impacts of industrialization, we should. We can definitely do much more to reduce pollution, without giving up the advantages of industry.

At least where i live (which happens to be the same place as the author of the article), a high percentage of houses have lead water pipes so i don't think it seems that crazy that it was added to petrol

Mostly what I'm aware of in the US is lead pipes from the water main in the street to the house. A fair amount of leaded solder in copper pipe joints, but lead pipes in the house is pretty uncommon.

As I would understand it, maintaining a neutral to alkaline pH in addition to the chlorine/chloramine used for disinfection of potable water generally produces a fairly durable passivization layer on lead which prevents significant lead exposure in drinking water. Responsible water utilities deliberately prevent the distribution of acidic water AND do some sort of at-the-tap water testing program as well. Needless to say, in Flint, Michigan, they screwed up at these things.

(Edit, ok, there's a little more to it https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/resources/highs... )

Sadly, there is a good chance your daily coffee was contaminated by lead from the espresso machine that made it (even current models do this!):


Hm, looking at those numbers if you went by the worst possible readings, and assuming 4 espresso coffees a day with the average length of 30ml you'd get

    0.042mg/ml * 0.030ml * 4 = 5.04µg of lead
According to https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=34&po=9 adults absorb 20% on a full stomach and up to 80% empty.

So always eat before your espresso! Though a commercial machine running a regular takeaway workload is unlikely to have much lead in due to the volume of water going through it.

The reported levels are about double the EPA's treatment technique maximum -- and that's for water sitting in the boiler for 8-12 hours.

So considering 1) it's 2x, not 10x or 1,000x, 2) a double espresso is only ~60 ml, and if you ingest 3L of water per day it makes up only 2% of your daily liquid, and 3) for most people getting a coffee from a shop, the water will be sitting in the boiler for minutes, not fractions of days...

...it doesn't seem like something to worry about too much for most people?

> Worryingly, the “precautionary principle” that led to the phase-out, and is enshrined in EU law, is in danger from Brexit.

The precautionary principle is not a vademecum — indeed, it can be taken far too far and become an excuse for either unthinking conservatism (banning anything new out of an overabundance of precaution).

For professional reasons I am aware of the ongoing controversy regarding titanium dioxide (used in paints and so forth) where an apparently flawed rat study has triggered off major pandemonium at the heart of REACH (EU’s materials risk assessment and management system) and threatens to run my industry aground, all because of the ”precautionary mechanism” and some possibly bad science. I’m not terribly confident about how bureaucracies process this kind of information.

>I’m not terribly confident about how bureaucracies process this kind of information.

My reaction to “let’s have politicians establish tax schemes to ‘solve’ global warming”. Apparently to the gloom and doomers there is no nuance in the topic at all, odd for the people who claim to be such ardent supporters of science.

Cap and trade is both the mainstream theoretical economic consensus recommendation, and worked well in practice in solving acid rain.

The classic saying "life is a terminal illness that affects everyone" comes to mind.

It can be, but it manifestly isn’t and hasn’t been anytime in recent history. We’re so far from an abuse of it that radical and prolonged changes in society would be required before we had to worry about that particular slippery slope.

GMO is banned for no reason in EU. Their loss though.

There is a reason, which is mainly a total loss of trust in the companies and institutions which would otherwise allay people’s fears. A lot of people also object to GMO, not for some crystsl-gripping reason, but because they don’t trust companies patenting genes and plants.

The next thing to ban will be microplastics. It seems to be as dangerous as lead, and it'll be much more complicated to avoid.

It would be interesting how elevated lead levels affected the history of the 20th/21st century. (Not just crime statistics - but effects on elites / world leaders).

Hope they don't find out the same things about fluoride.

Does anyone know of what foods mitigate the accumulation of lead or other heavy metals in the body?

The reason I asked the question was to see if anyone had had medical advice on the subject. My father was a printer in the days when lead type was used. Over a long period of time he accumulated lead within his body.

His doctor advised him to eat beetroot every day. Over a period of several months the amount of lead that had accumulated in his body was reduce to negligible amounts and he never had the problem again. Mind you, he still eats beetroot today and he is in his mid-eighties. He was in his mid-thirties when he started.

I was wondering if others had been advised by their doctors on this subject.

Lipoic acid will remove some heavy metals from your body. It can also cross the blood-brain barrier and remove mercury, one of the few things that can.

Is it folk wisdom? Or are there references to back it up?

Everything in this thread that supposes to be medical advice is nonsense folk wisdom. If there was a medicine that cured lead poisoning we wouldn't have articles like this one.


Serious question: does this mean I need to start being a lot more careful about lead debris generated by hobbyist soldering?

You should treat the lead debris you generate as any other poison. (how have you been treating it?)

As far as soldering safely, you should definitely keep in mind that your biggest health risk is inhaling burnt flux, and lead-free solder generates a lot more of that smoke. Lead-free solder is more dangerous to your health. There's some more information here (archive.org because I don't know where this is on the new Weller site): https://web.archive.org/web/20160402062321/http://www.weller...

This is how I have understood it. The real danger in using lead for soldering, is not the inhaling of the smoke/vapors, but that you are touching lead and will later touch your eyes and mouth.

Using lead for soldering is likely fine, but be extra judicious about washing your hands, avoid touching mucous membranes.

You can buy hand soap specifically for lead and other heavy metals. One widely available brand is "D-Lead" and it's common to see it at hand-washing stations at shooting ranges, where you are expected to clean up your spent cartridges (they are a slip hazard).

Yep - and to extend on this, when you wash your hands after handling lead you should use cold water.


I don't know why people still use leaded solder in the first place? I only use lead free solder for my hobby projects, and it works fine.

Flows better, cracks less, doesn't grow whiskers. On every dimension other than safety it is by far the superior product. Noticeably so, even with practice and good JBC irons. I recently made the jump to tin, so the difference is fresh in my mind.

I have a bench full of uwave equipment from the 80s on account of the price being 1/10 to 1/100 of newer equivalents -- how much of it would still be alive if they had used tin solder? Would my hobby still be economically viable? Quite possibly not.

> how much of it would still be alive if they had used tin solder?

Tin ages poorly?

"Tin whiskers" is the term to google. Makes for an especially visceral image search.

There are many mitigation strategies, but lead was a miracle cure, and it will take substantial time and effort to approach its efficacy, especially on the multi-decade timescale. My guess is that companies won't bother. Reliability beyond planned lifetime impacts their bottom line negatively, if at all.

Link for the lazy: https://nepp.nasa.gov/WHISKER/background/index.htm

Eugh. Yeah, connections randomly bridging to their neighbors is a nightmare.

Apparently there is a brewery named Tin Whiskers. I would like to meet the founder, I bet we would get along. :)

Now I wish I lived near St. Paul! Not only is it named Tin Whiskers Brewing Company, but their beers have electric references in their names and schematic symbols for logos:


I think my favorite names are Barrel Shifter Porter (an oak-aged porter) and Wheatstone Bridge (a wheat beer, of course).

It's worth a visit to that page for anyone interested in clever product names and visuals.

More background on their "Who are we?" page:


They even use circuit boards for tasting flight holders.

Because it's easier. When I started soldering, the lead-free stuff was finnicky but I had nearly no problems with leaded solder.

Regardless, you should have good ventilation when soldering. A small fan to suck smoke away, maybe even a mask, and take care to clean your hands and the area like you would any other harmful material (e.g. oil).

Does anyone know of any ventilation kits that would work in an apartment that doesn't otherwise get a lot of air circulation? I can't drill holes in the walls for air ducts.

https://www.hakkousa.com/products/fume-extraction/hakko-fa-4... up close plus a HEPA filter in the room, and you're probably doing quite well. Use name-brand filter replacements and not some random crap.

Connector[1] pins on a ground plane on an 8 layer board are difficult to solder, and the wetability of lead helps a bit.

[1] Or pvc insulated wire onto a piezo brass disc sounder.

Lead contamination in school water supplies is a particularly pernicious, under-addressed, and improperly diagnosed problem, happening right here in California - with significant downstream developmental health consequences for children.

An SF-based group Measure Water is fighting for a solution to the problem, starting with getting schools to correctly examine their water.

I'm friends with the founder and she'd welcome anyone interested in helping to reach out at team@measurewater.org

Are lead lined walls dangerous? I wanted to have a shed basement with lead lines walls to double as a bunker.

How does one actually get lead poisoning except thru contamination of water etc.?

Touching the lead and then touching your face, food, or others' hands, breathing dust from the lead, etc.

Maybe you can achieve your goals with other materials, like soil, rock, cinder block, etc.

Why would I touch the lead if it's deep in the walls?

TLDR: 400,000 annual US deaths are attributed to lead poisoning, 10x increases over previous estimates. The difference is due to previous studies excluding low doses of lead, assuming they have no effect. The news here is that any rise of lead is dangerous.

The study is observational and looking for correlation, involves 12k people, and controls for all usual factors including wealth.

It seems legit to me, given that controls are in place and the mechanism has been well established earlier.

At a valuation of $10MM/life, deaths from lead cost the USA $4 TRILLION per year.

Meanwhile, the gross national income is only around $18 trillion/year.


Well regarding mercury, it has been phased out of most vaccines in the US and European Union.

> "FDA is continuing its efforts toward reducing or removing thimerosal from all existing vaccines." [1]

Note to self: don't touch dimethylmercury even with nitrile gloves, it goes right through within seconds. The last person to do so, KW, slowly turned into a vegetable and was ultimately euthanized [2, 3]

[1] https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/Question...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ7M01jV058

> Well regarding mercury, it has been phased out of most vaccines in the US and European Union.


"Feligen, the only veterinary vaccine tested, proved to be the only sample free from inorganic contamination"

This isn't making me feel too great...smh

On the plus side, the cited paper [1] on probiotics is new information for me. I might try some more probiotics and see how they affect my mood.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27756430/ (Microbiota and neurologic diseases: potential effects of probiotics.)

You can't compare the biological effects of table salt (sodium chloride) to molecules containing heavy metals. Sodium is an extremely reactive alkali metal and chlorine is an extremely reactive halogen. Because it is strongly ionically bonded, NaCl won't suddenly bond with the organic material of your body. As the body is mostly water, it will be in Na+ and Cl- form, dissolved in water, and thus won't be able to form the dangerous diatomic forms like chlorine gas, Cl2.

Mercury on the other hand, is a heavy metal and isn't super reactive. It's not water soluble, it's fat soluble. Chellation therapy will not save a person if their mercury levels are too high from an accident with it. It will sit in the fat of their brain and they'll slowly die while becoming more and more brain damaged. No treatment.

But lets talk about mercury-based compounds like Thimerosal. The danger isn't Thimerosal as a substance, it is an effective and safe chemical. But we don't know all the intracacies of the human bodys' chemical pathways. All we know is that most large molecules/substances break down eventually - either via the bodys' enzymes or something else consumed and interacting - or just time. So though we can do tests on the stability of Thimerosal through en vivo studies, with fluorescent tagged molecules, or piss tests on rats, ultimately we don't know what reactants are in everyones' body entirely. And it is unwise to give people something of questionable stability that is composed of toxic parts, dangerous upon decay.


Reference for this?

Ironically the first scholarly result searching for heavy metals and spirulina covers the risk of ingesting them because it bioaccumulates. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824145/

The article does refer to several studies showing health benefits for spirulina, although none of them discuss using it to remove heavy metals from the body (it’s not even clear to me how such a mechanism could possibly work).

I am not a doctor, but it’s something to do with Spirulina binding with the metals.

Or it could be that I’ve mistaken Spirulina for Chlorella.

Because they bind with metals it’s important to get them from clean sources as I mentioned.

Heavy metals accumulate in organs inside your body. Algae and other plants have a mechanism that prevents oxidative metals from damaging them. Does this mean if you eat those plants, they’ll do the same for you? It seems incredibly unlikely since the first thing your body does to these plants is digest them. You are not a plant.

Fairly common knowledge.

In fact, because Spirulina absorbs heavy metals, it’s important to get Spirulina from clean sources as you may be ingesting Spirulina that already has absorbed heavy metals within it. Be careful.

That is not a source.

>Fairly common knowledge

So complete nonsense then. Got it.

Please don't respond by degrading the discussion even further, regardless of how right you are.


I don’t know man. It was just something I knew from some time ago and there’s no end of google results that talk about this.

Not really sure what other source you’re looking for. A research paper? Even those can be nonsense.

> A research paper? Even those can be nonsense.

An absense of research papers is far more frequently evidence of nonsense

Not really. All the absence of research papers indicates is that the subject has not been considered to be worth the time or money to do research in the subject.

There is only so much time and only so much money and as a consequence, priorities are made as to what it should be spent on.

Even replication of results is not deemed worthy enough to spend time and money on. We see this often enough where papers detailing the replication of an experiment are simply ignored in the journals for that field. This comes up in discussion in so many different fora across the internet.

If unlimited funds were available for research into all and every subject, there is still the lack of time and researchers available to do all of the research necessary.

So what happens is that whoever has the most influence and the available funds and time gets to dictate what gets done. This means that for other research, it depends on the efforts of those who have a burning interest and motivation to do the study.

I, myself, have a whole series of experiments that I want to undertake. it will have to be by my time and money as it is a subject that I especially want to investigate. But that is still dependent on all the other commitments that I have. I, at least, have a couple of young people who are willing to help with the research when I get it progressing.

The particular area has much hype but no widely available experimental results to back up any claims from either side of the discussion. I am designing the series of experiments to try, as best as I can, to get as detailed results as possible for future possible experiments and direction of research. In my own study, I have found only three other groups around the world that have even looked into the subject with any sort of experimental detail.

We still allow Flouride in toothpaste and we actively put it in drinking water, and I believe it’s worse than lead.

> worse than lead

You're a smart person, easily capable of understanding how false and damaging this nonsense is.

For perspective, municipal water is fluoridated at 0.5-1.5 mg/L. Can you guess what would happen to you if your drinking water contained that much soluble lead? Here's a hint: it doesn't involve living very long.

Please stop spreading this bullshit.

Fortunately, science doesn't depend on believing.

And chlorine in salt!/s

And eventually there will be general acceptance that shoving a lump of metallic mixture containing 50% mercury, another toxic heavy metal, into a location an inch or so from the brain is not such a good idea.


"Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life."

Are you talking about fillings? Confusing to link to a generic article about mercury if so.

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