University of Bristol Spelæological Society

Concentrations of lead, cadmium, copper and zinc in teeth from a cave used for Romano-British burials: Effect of lead contamination (UBSS Proceedings v.16(3))

Proceedings » Volume 16 » Sub-volume 3

Coles,S.G., and Stack,M.V., 1983. Concentrations of lead, cadmium, copper and zinc in teeth from a cave used for Romano-British burials: Effect of lead contamination. UBSS Proceedings, 16(3) , pp 193-200 Download PDF.

Abstract: Deposits in the fourth chamber of Wookey Hole cave were found to contain up to 0.5% lead, more than 30 times as much as in other Mendip caves (Stenner, 1978). Ten teeth recovered, with other skeletal material, from this deposit, were analysed for lead, cadmium, copper and zinc, using flame atomic absorption spectroscopy. Comparing with local data for modern teeth, cadmium levels were high and lead levels very high. However, some values (zinc and copper) and relative standard deviations (zinc, copper and cadmium) were within expected limits. The range of values for lead was unusually narrow in relation to concentration. Post-mortem exposure of the teeth to a lead-rich environment may have contributed to the bulk of the 75 p.p.m. lead typical of these teeth.

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