Could Lead Poisoning Attribute To Collapse Of Roman Empire

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Could Lead Poisoning Attribute To Collapse of Roman Empire


Lead poisoning is a disease caused by exposure to and absorption of lead. It is identified by measuring the blood level of lead in an individual. Lead poisoning affects virtually every system in the body, and especially the developing brain and nervous system of unborn and young children. Lead is a very, very strong poison. An extremely small amount of lead can cause serious harm to a child. The blood concentration of lead that might cause coma, convulsions, and even death in children is 100 micrograms per deciliter. This is comparable to half of a drop of a contaminant in a bathtub full of water. Even concentrations of lead in the blood that are 1/10th that strong, or equivalent to 1/20th of a drop of a contaminant in a bathtub full of water, have been found to be associated with detectable damage to the development of the brain.

The threshold of 10 micrograms per deciliter is a level at which a number of harmful effects of lead have been identified. This is referred to as the Level of Concern. Federal figures show that about 9% of children aged 1 to 5 had such a level from 1988 to 1991. Fifteen micrograms per deciliter is of somewhat greater concern, as a larger degree of harmful effects are documented. Under 3% of young children had this blood lead level. Even fewer, about 1%, had levels of 20 or more micrograms per deciliter and about 0.5% had levels of 25 or over. (Gilfillan, 53-60) Augustus Caesar was the first emperor of Rome, who brought the city and the Empire from the chaos of civil war to a system of ordered government. Of this overall achievement there is no doubt, for Augustus provided a firm and stable basis from which sprang the expansion and prosperity of the next two centuries, and which enabled Rome and the Empire to withstand the waywardness of many of the emperors who came after Augustus.

Augustus' career was not typical in a state which expected its leaders to be both aristocratic and mature in years. His father had risen from relative obscurity to marry a niece of Julius Caesar; on Caesar's assassination in 44 BC, their son, who was one of Caesar's few legitimate male relatives, burst upon the scene at the age of only 18, expecting a supremacy for which most who were socially his betters would have had to wait until the age of 42 or so. Such impetuosity might have proved fatal, but Octavian (as he was then known) displayed a consummate ability to utilise people's services, to play men off against each other, and to maintain a convincing self-righteousness in the most unpromising of situations. Such were the ingredients of charisma in a man who from his earliest years proved himself to be a mature demagogue and a deft manipulator of opinion.

Still more remarkable was the fact that, having achieved supremacy by his defeat of Antony and ...
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