Highest Pre-Modern Lead Pollution Occurred 800 Years Ago


Study utilizing glacial ice, historical documents explores association of pollution, health, economic history.

Scientists and archaeologists from the University of Nottingham, the Climate Change Institute at the University of Maine and Harvard University discovered the highest levels of air pollution before the modern era occurred around 800 years ago.

The study, published by Cambridge University Press’ Antiquity journal, includes data that represents the highest-resolution, most detailed and chronologically accurate record in existence for pollution, climate change and economic growth over the past two millennia.

A team of researchers from the CCI, Heidelberg University and the University of Bern retrieved the ice core from an alpine glacier (Colle Gnifetti) on the border of Switzerland and Italy. The glacier is well known among researchers in Germany, Switzerland (as reported in The New York Times), Italy and the United States for the quality of its ice.

Scientists at the Climate Change Institute used cutting-edge laser technology to chemically identify changes in pollution and climate, year by year, and even season by season.

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Image via University of Maine