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Home / Health / Convicted Arctic expedition in the 19th century was not cured by lead poisoning, finds study

Convicted Arctic expedition in the 19th century was not cured by lead poisoning, finds study



The Franklin Expedition, a 19th-century mission that mapped a fabulous northwestern passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, ended with the death of all 128 crew members. A prevalent theory is that lead poisoning has made a significant contribution to the final sinking of seafarers – a theory that, according to new research, can finally come to rest.

In 1845, two British ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were sailing in the icy waters of the North American Arctic. The purpose of the mission, led by Sir John Franklin, was to discover and map a potential corridor through the Northwest Passage connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific. Tragically, none of the 1

28 crew members survived the expedition, and the mystery of their death has lasted almost 175 years.

During the first winter, the crew took refuge on Beechey Island, where three sailors died and were buried. The expedition resumed in the spring of 1846, but in September, the ships near King William Island were hopelessly trapped in ice. Incredibly, the crew stayed with their ships until April 1848. At that time, the remaining 105 crew members finally left Erebus and Terror and headed south to seek help. Nobody survived.

Over the years, some of the tombs of the sailors were discovered, which contained well-preserved bodies, and both ships were discovered by Canadian archaeologists; The wreckage of Erebus was found south of King William Island in Nunavut in 2014, and the terror was discovered in 2016 in Terror Bay. Many questions remain about the last months and days of the expedition, including the way the sailors died.

Earlier analyzes of bones, hair, and soft tissue from recovered bodies, along with verbal reports from indigenous peoples, suggested crew members died from a variety of causes, including lead poisoning, exposure, starvation, scurvy, botulism, tuberculosis, and Addison's disease (a form of adrenal insufficiency due to tuberculosis). Lead poisoning, in particular, has been identified as a major cause of death for sailors who may have been exposed to lead from tin cans and possibly the ships' water filtration system. In fact, previous studies have uncovered unusually high lead levels in some skeletal remains, but many questions remained unanswered, such as the source of lead and the level and duration of exposure. To complicate matters, lead exposure was common in the 19th century. While lead levels in skeletal remains appeared to be high, it is not known what these levels were compared to other British Navy sailors over the same period.

in PLOS Continue on to this specific topic and conclude that lead poisoning has not played a crucial role in the deaths of Franklin expedition sailors. To conclude, a research team from MacEwan University in Edmonton, Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, and several other Canadian institutions examined three hypotheses.

First, those who survived longer should have more lead uptake as evidenced by microstructures in their bones. Second, the bones that formed in the last days and months of the lives of the sailors should have elevated lead levels. And finally, if lead was a contributing factor, bone samples should have higher or more sustainable lead levels than a contemporaneous and relevant sample group – a 19th century British marine population living in Antigua at around the same time. Archaeologists have recently completed excavations of this Caribbean site to find out if rum and the way it was distilled could have been a cause of lead poisoning among members of the British Navy. These data allowed for a comparative analysis with the Franklin Expedition.

To test these assumptions, researchers used a high-resolution scanning technique known as confocal X-ray fluorescence imaging. This technique creates 3D images of materials such as bone up to a resolution of 20 microns.

Looking at the data, the researchers found no evidence supporting the claim that those who lived longer were exposed to more lead. The second hypothesis that bone formed in the last days of life of the crew should contain elevated lead concentrations was "only partly supported because the evidence showed exposure [lead] but was not significantly elevated for most individuals," they write Researchers studying. Finally, the comparative analysis with the Royal Navy of Antigua "did not support the hypothesis that Franklin sailors were exposed to an extraordinarily high level of [lead] at the time."

In conclusion, the researchers concluded that "the skeletal microstructural [lead] distribution data do not support the conclusion that [lead] played a crucial role in the loss of Franklin and his team."

Russell Taichman, a professor at the University of The physician and expert on the various ailments of the members of the Franklin expedition told Gizmodo, the new newspaper. Englisch: www.mjfriendship.de/en/index.php?op…58&Itemid=55 was "very well done" and the "controls were good and the implications justified." Taichman, who was not participating in the study, found it "very interesting" that "lead poisoning was not omnipresent as a cause of widespread failure," but he believes that the paper presents some results that are more b-For example, he said, " some of the samples had much higher lead levels than others – why? A clear answer is unknown, leaving room for further investigation. "

What ultimately killed the sailors is not all that hard to imagine.

"I would presume that their problems have probably multiplied over time," said Tamara Varney, a co-author of the new study and a member of the Lakehead anthropology department, to the CBC. "Their food would have been limited, so if they had starved, they would have had nutritional deficiencies, and any health problems that individuals had on the expedition that might not be a problem at the time, I imagine if the time were up these have become more enlarged and manifest. "

In other words, they slowly died miserable death. It was certainly a hard time being a sailor, especially when traveling to the Canadian Arctic.

[PLoS One]


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