Lead poisoning ruled out as reason behind Beethoven's deat

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Washington, June 05 (ANI): Lead poisoning may have not been the reason behind Ludwig van Beethoven's death, according to a researcher.

Andrew Todd, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine made the claim after measuring the amount of lead in two skull fragments of the musician.

He insists it is unlikely that lead poisoning caused the renal failure that was partly responsible for Beethoven's death, eliminating one of the many suggested causes of death for the famed composer.

Todd said: "Ninety-five percent of lead in the adult body is stored in bone, where it stays for years, even after death.

"Measuring the amount of lead in Beethoven's bone fragments allows us to reach back through time to measure his lead exposure during life."

Skull fragments from Beethoven were examined using a technique called x-ray fluorescence (XRF). XRF does not damage or destroy the sample and has been used by Dr. Todd in many studies of the human health effects of lead. A very small radiation dose (about the same dose as 10 minutes of natural background radiation) is used to make the lead stored in bone give off x-rays, which are recorded in a radiation detector. The larger skull fragment was found by Dr. Todd to have 12 micrograms of lead per gram of bone mineral.

Todd added: "For someone who was Beethoven's age, we would expect more than that; one comparison dataset predicts 21 micrograms of lead per gram of bone mineral."

Lead exposure is known to cause irritability, for which Beethoven was renowned, as well as colic and kidney failure, from which, along with liver failure, Beethoven is thought to have died. (ANI)

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