Reuters: Beethoven Pb toxic?

aerie aerie01 at sprynet.com
Sun Nov 5 18:49:23 EST 2000

Very interesting.  Another possibility is drinking wine from vessels covered
with a lead glaze.  This was a commom form of lead poisoning at this time.


Gary Greenberg wrote in message <39EDA970.D816F42 at Duke.Edu>...
>Poison May Have Doomed Beethoven
>(Mod: Please visit website for complete article. - G]
>Updated 6:06 AM ET October 18, 2000
>By MARTHA IRVINE, Associated Press Writer
>ARGONNE, Ill. (AP) - An analysis of a lock of Ludwig van Beethoven's
>hair suggests lead poisoning could explain certain ailments suffered by
>the erratic genius, his strange behavior, his death, maybe even his
>The four-year analysis of the hair - apparently snipped after the
>composer's death at age 56 in 1827 - has turned up a concentration of
>lead 100 times the levels commonly found in people today, according to
>researchers at the Health Research Institute in suburban Chicago, where
>the hair was tested.
>That means it is all but certain that the composer suffered from lead
>poisoning, also known as plumbism, the researchers said.
>"It was a surprise, but it stood out like a sore thumb in the analysis,"
>said William Walsh, director of the institute's Beethoven research
>Scientists initially were searching for mercury, a common treatment for
>syphilis in Beethoven's day. The absence of mercury supports the recent
>consensus of scholars who believe Beethoven did not have syphilis.
>In rare cases, lead poisoning causes deafness, but scientists remain
>unsure if that was what caused Beethoven's hearing loss.
>Lead poisoning may also explain what some described as dramatic mood
>swings on Beethoven's part.
>The Health Research Institute scientists said that Beethoven's lead
>exposure came as an adult but that the source of the lead is unclear,
>though one possibility is the mineral water he swam in and drank during
>his stays at spas.
>The conclusions were based on chemical analysis by the McCrone Research
>Institute in Chicago and images taken at Argonne National Laboratory
>using an electron accelerator that creates the most detailed X-rays
>available today.
>= - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
>Center for Beethoven Studies:
>Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH    Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
>gary.greenberg at duke.edu     Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
>OEM-L Maillist Website:                      http://occhealthnews.com

More information about the Toxicol mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net