Thursday, 17 August 2017

Drinking water in ancient Pompeii likely hazardous

The Romans were famous for their advanced engineering related to water supply. But the drinking water in the pipelines was probably poisoned on a scale that may have led to daily problems with vomiting, diarrhea, and liver and kidney damage. This according to an analysis of water pipe from Pompeii. Results suggest the pipes contained high levels of the toxic chemical element antimony.
Lead often takes the blame for the fall of the Roman Empire. Lead water pipes, lead cooking vessels, and lead utensils poisoned unwitting Romans, at least that was the theory. The fragment of an ancient lead pipe from Pompeii was loaded with antimony, a chemical that’s even more toxic than lead. The inside of lead pipes calcify quickly, forming a barrier between the poisonous lead and the drinking water flowing through the pipe. Antimony might have been the real culprit. A grey metal-like chemical used in making lead batteries, electronics, and other products, antimony is especially common in groundwater near volcanoes. Thus more samples from other locations is required for proof.