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Ancient Rome's tap water heavily contaminated with lead, researchers say

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The Guardian - April 21st, 2014

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(...) Albarède's team studied lead isotopes in a nine-metre-deep core drilled from the harbour and a 13-metre core taken from the canal, which carried a record of contaminants from the Tiber. (...)
Though Rome's complex plumbing system gave officials control over the distribution of water around the city, it was not unknown for locals to punch holes in the pipes to draw water off, increasing the number of people exposed to the lead. Even so, Albarède believes that any health problems caused by lead piping could not have brought the civilisation to its knees. (...)

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Francis Albarède est directeur du laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon, Terre, Planètes, Environnement ou  LGTPE - (ENS de Lyon, Université Claude-Bernard Lyon 1, CNRS)
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