Ye olde pollution

BLAME for Europe’s lead pollution lies as much with medieval metalworkers as with 20th-century polluters, a study of Swedish lake sediments has revealed. Ingemar Renber and his colleagues at Umeå University in Sweden identified periods of heavy lead pollution by measuring relative amounts of lead-206 and lead-207 in mud from four Swedish lakes. The ratio of these two isotopes has steadily declined over the years, enabling the researchers to date the deposits. The heaviest pollution tallied with the heyday of smelting in the Middle Ages,
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