A Timeline of Lead

The following timeline is an excerpt from a more extensive list of dates and information. 

3000 BCE – First significant mining and refining of metallic lead. 500 BCE-300 AD – Roman lead smelting produces dangerous emissions. 400 BCE – Hippocrates describes lead poisoning.

100 BCE – Greek physicians give clinical description of lead poisoning.

1621 – Lead first mined in North America.

1853 – Tetraethyl lead (TEL) discovered by Carl Jacob Loewig (1803 – 1890), chemistry professor at the University of Zurich.
1887 – US medical authorities diagnose childhood lead poisoning.

1909. France, Belgium and Austria ban white-lead interior paint.

1910 – Alice Hamilton‘s pioneering study of lead industries for state of Illinois  finds extensive worker poisoning and conditions that would close factories in Europe. Hamilton becomes America’s foremost expert in lead poisoning.

1914 – Pediatric lead-paint poisoning death from eating crib paint is described.

1916 – Dayton Electric Light Co. (DELCO) president Charles F. Kettering asks researcher Thomas A. Midgley to begin working on problem of engine knock in DELCO electric generators used in rural areas for electric lighting.  Midgley discovers iodine as anti-knock but it’s too expensive.

1924 – Six Standard Oil refinery workers die violently insane following daily  exposure to tetraethyl lead fumes at Bayway Ethyl plant.

1925 – Criminal charges are dropped against Standard by a New Jersey grand jury investigating the deaths and injuries.

1926  – Public Health Committee releases a report that finds “no good grounds” for prohibiting Ethyl gasoline but insists on continued tests.

1942 – GM, Ethyl and Standard Oil gave the Nazis leaded gasoline production technology in return for a patents on synthetic rubber.

1971 – Ethyl Corp. officials claim to be victims of a “witch hunt,” and say environmentalists are using “scare tactics” by blaming lead for the fall of the Roman Empire.

1976 – Preliminary decision in Lead Industries Association v EPA; court says EPA has authority to regulate leaded gasoline.

1977 – Testing by public health scientists shows correlations between high levels of lead in children’s blood and brain damage, hypertention and learning disorders.

1978 – Lead in residential paint is banned.

1981 – Vice President George Bush’s Task Force on Regulatory Relief proposes to relax or eliminate US leaded gas phaseout, despite mounting evidence of serious health problems.

1983 – EPA reports that between 1976 and 1980, amount of lead consumed in gasoline dropped 50 percent and corresponding blood-lead levels dropped 37 percent. The benefits of the lead phaseout exceed its costs by $700 million.

1986 – Primary phaseout of leaded gas in US completed. Study shows health benefit to technology cost ratio at 10:1.
Click here for the full timeline.

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