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Lead in Albacore: Guide to Lead Pollution in Americans

Settle, Dorothy M. and Patterson, Clair C. (1980) Lead in Albacore: Guide to Lead Pollution in Americans. Science, 207 (4436). pp. 1167-1176. ISSN 0036-8075. doi:10.1126/science.6986654.

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Lead contamination in canned tuna, exceeding natural concentrations 10,000-fold, went undiscovered for decades because of analytical error. The magnitude of this pollution effects helps explain the difference between the lead concentration in the diets of present-day. Americans (0.2 part per million) and in the diets of prehistoric peoples (estimated to be less than 0.002 part per million). It also explain how skeletal concentrations of lead in typical Americans became elevated 500-fold above the natural concentrations measured in bones of Peruvian's who lived in a unpolluted environment 1800 years ago. It has been tacitly assumed that natural biochemical effects of lead in human cells have been studied, but this is not so because reagents, nutrients, and controls used in laboratory and field studies have been unknowingly contaminated with lead far in excess of naturally occurring levels. An unrecognized form of poisoning caused by this excessive exposure to lead may affect most Americans because magnitudes of biochemical dysfunctions are proportional to degrees of exposure.

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Additional Information:© 1980 American Association for the Advancement of Science. This article includes summary statements from unpublished studies by us and our co-workers. They are M. Burnett (lead in marine plants and animals), B. Schaule (lead in seawater); R. Elias, T. Hinkley, Y. Hirao, H. Shirahata, and K. Fujii (biogeochemical studies of lead in Thompson Canyon); R. Aines (lead in stem wood of trees), and G. Kolbasuk (lead in freshwater streams). We acknowledge the cooperation of G. M. Meaburn in conducting analysis of tuna muscle. This work was supported by NSF grants IDO 74-24362 and DEB 73-01306 A01. Contribution 3197 from Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.
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NSFIDO 74-24362
NSFDEB 73-01306 A01
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Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences3197
Issue or Number:4436
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Official Citation:Lead in Albacore: Guide to Lead Pollution in Americans Dorothy M. Settle and Clair C. Patterson Science, New Series, Vol. 207, No. 4436 (Mar. 14, 1980), pp. 1167-1176 Published by: American Association for the Advancement of Science Article Stable URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:44952
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:15 Apr 2014 18:06
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:58

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