Lead in cans didn't cause Franklin disaster: chemists - Macleans.ca

Lead in cans didn’t cause Franklin disaster: chemists


LONDON, Ont. – A long-standing Arctic mystery has become even more baffling with research that appears to debunk a common theory about the demise of the Franklin expedition’s crew.

Sir John Franklin, his two ships and all his men disappeared in the 1850s while exploring the Arctic.

How they died remained a mystery for more than a century until some Franklin graves were discovered and the sailors found to contain high levels of lead in their bones.

Scientists theorized that lead poisoning from cans of food weakened the men and clouded their judgment.

But chemists at the University of Western Ontario have used the latest technology to throw doubt on that theory.

Their paper concludes that the bones held so much lead that it couldn’t have accumulated in the short period of time the sailors would have been eating out of cans.

It says that whatever led Franklin and his men to their end is once again a mystery.

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Lead in cans didn’t cause Franklin disaster: chemists

  1. Lead poisoning? Not likely as the chemists from the University of Western Ontario point out. Probably human error. Human nature. The inanbility to do the proper research before embarking on the voyage. Then making a number of mitigating mistakes. Each one magnifying the faults of the preceding ones. And in that harsh environment the end result was inevitable. They may have even resorted, as some other ill fated expeditions had in the past, to consuming the corpses of their dead.

    • But lead poisoning was a factor, apparently, since the article says that the levels of lead found in the bones was too high to have come simply from eating out of lead cans. It seems that the mystery is, how did they ingest so much lead?

      • Have a simple blood test done by an accredited laboratory. Get the results verified by a second source. Have a biopsy done on your liver, kidneys and spleen. They will all contain high levels of mercury, lead, and arsenic among other contaminents. But can you say with 100 % accuracy as to just where or how you got them? I doubt it.
        Hint. The Thames river was terribly polluted even after there was a concerted effort to clean it up and rebuild many of the old sewer systems in the early 1800’s. It was the main source of London’s drinking water and carried many diseases like chloera. That’s why people drank spirits like gin, wine, and beer.