In September 1923 a young Mahomedan male was admitted into the King George's
Hospital LucSiow with disterJon of the abdomen, persistent constipation severe abdo-
m^l colk and mus^ukr weakness as a result of litharge having been adrmmstered to
hta by a qua4 for the treatment of a syphilitic sore on the penis. He recovered after
twenty days' stay in the hospital.
A woman, in the third month of pregnancy, ingested 50 grammes of lead monoxide
a little at a time, with the aim of inducing abortion. Four^days after the first dose she
Ld the s4ipSms of bilateral pyelitis and neuritis. Abortion took place spontaneously
twenty-tSS days later. She recovered from the abortion and from the lead poisoning.*
Paranoid states Associated with lead poisoning were observed m six^ Indian males who
had worked for periods varying from 3 months to 2 years for long shfts m enclosed
spaces filled with a heavy concentration of fumes from petrol to which lead tetra-ethyl
had been aded. The chief symptoms were acute excitement, confusion, hypochondnasis,
fears, insomnia, and emaciation. Of these two died.10
3 Lead is normally present in almost all human tissues. Recent
researches carried out by Bagchi, Ganguli and Sardar " have shown that the
amount of lead present in individual cases varies according to the dilterence
in the lead content of the food ingested. Lead is retained in large quantities
in bone, tooth, hair, and nails. The maximum amount of lead is found m
hair especially the black hair of Indian women. The skin is very poor in
lead The ovary is free from lead, while the testicle contains quite an
appreciable amount. The foetal tissues do not show any affinity for lead
although it is believed otherwise.
4. Lead may be absorbed into the system from the respiratory tract,
from the alimentary canal or from the skin. Absorption from the respiratory
tract is a common form of industrial poisoning and produces symptoms of
lead poisoning, when one to two milligrammes of lead are inhaled daily for
a prolonged period. The other routes take longer time and require larger
doses to produce the same effect. In fact the damage caused by inhalation
is much more severe than that caused by swallowing and it is stated that
plumbism is ten times more liable to occur when lead compounds are inhaled
as a fine dust than when they enter the system by the skin or by the diges-
tive tract.12 From a study of the occupational lead hazard in certain Indian
industries Chakraborty and others have shown that forty per cent of
workers accumulate a pathological amount of lead, but do not show
poisonous symptoms, which are not likely to appear till the lead concen-
tration is below 0.2 mg. per 100 Gm. of blood.13
It must be borne in mind that the solubility of a lead compound in water
is not the criterion of its solubility in the body fluids as is evident from the
following table u : —
Solubility oj Lead Compounds
In blood serum at 25 °C. mg. in one litre
In water at 25° 0. mg, in one litre
9. A. Saturski, Zentralblatt fur Gynakologie, Leipzig, Jan, 8, 1927, p, 102; Jour.
Amer. MecL Assoc., June 11, 1927, p. 1941.
10. V. L. Kahan, Jour. Mental Science, Oct. 1950, p. 1043.
11. Ind. Jour. Med. Res., XXVI, 4, April 1939, p. 935; Ibid., XXVII, 3, Jan. 1940, p. 777.
12. Bagchi, K. N., Ind. Jour, of Pediatrics, April 1942, p, 69; Jacobs, M, B., Analytical
Chemistry of Industrial Poisons, Hazards and Solvents, New York, 1941.
13. Ind. J. Med. Res., Oct. 1950, Vol. XXXVIII, p. 429.
14. Jacobs, M. B., Analytical Chemistry oj Industrial Poisons, Hazards and Solvents,
New York, 1941.