The toxic effects of lead have been known for centuries. Its many useful properties gave rise to a dramatic escalation of lead use around the time of the industrial revolution, when lead poisoning was common amongst workers in the smelting, painting, plumbing, printing and other industries. With the advent of motor vehicles early in the 20th century, and the use of lead in petrol, environmental lead contamination increased substantially. Lead continues to be widely used, especially in developing countries, for example in petrol, paints and pigments, ammunition, cabling, television sets, computers, protective gear, ceramics and cosmetics, and many other ways (Tong et al 2000).
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