History of Water

Ruoxiang Chau

Shanghai, China

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Artist's Description

For many centuries, lead was the favoured material for water pipes, due to its malleability (this use was so common that the word “plumbing” derives from the Latin word for lead). This was a source of lead-related health problems in the years before the health hazards of ingesting lead were fully understood; among these were stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality. Lead water pipes were still in common use in the early 20th century and remain in many households. Lead-tin alloy solder was commonly used to join copper pipes, but modern practice uses tin-antimony alloy solder to join copper in order to eliminate lead hazards.

Despite the Romans common use of lead pipes, they were rarely poisoned by them. Unlike other parts of the world where lead pipes cause poisoning, the Roman water had so much calcium in it, that a layer of plaque prevented the water contacting the lead itself[citation needed]. What often causes confusion is the large amount of evidence of widespread lead poisoning, particularly amongst those who would have had easy access to piped water. This was an unfortunate result of lead being used in cookware and as an additive to processed food and drink, such as a preservative in wine.1 Roman lead pipe inscriptions provided information on the owner to prevent water theft.
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Source: Wikipedia

Lead water pipe, Ostia Antica.
Italy, May 2010.

Leica D-LUX4
5.1mm 1/30s f/2.0 200iso

Artwork Comments

  • SPFisher
  • Ruoxiang Chau
  • Durham White
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  • Maggie Hegarty
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