The Man Who Accidentally Killed The Most People In History

One scientist caused two environmental disasters and the deaths of millions. A part of this video is sponsored by Wren. Offset your carbon footprint on Wren: ​https://www.wren.co/start/veritasium. For the first 100 people who sign up, I will personally pay for the first month of your subscription!

Massive thanks to Prof. Francois Tissot for suggesting we make a video on the topic of isotope geochemistry. Huge thanks to Prof. Bruce Lanphear for consulting with us on lead and cardiovascular diseases. Thanks to the Caltech Archives for the audio of Patterson’s interview. Thanks to Vincent Mai for lending us your Snatoms kit. Thanks to Rayner Moss for the help with the fire-piston.

Patterson’s 1995 interview audio courtesy of the Archives, California Institute of Technology.

References:

Much of the lead-crime hypothesis data is from Rick Nevin’s work – https://ricknevin.com/

isotope geochemistry,Caltech Archives,Rayner Moss,Prof. Francois Tissot,Leaded Petrol,Standard Oil Company,cardiovascular diseases,evidence for global anthropogenic perturbations,Schaule,Lanphear,B.P.etal(2018),Low-level lead exposure and mortality in US adults,a population-based cohort study, The Lancet Public Health,Patterson, C. (1956).Age of meteorites and the earth,The Isotopic Composition of Trace Quantities of Lead and Calcium,Skeletal concentrations of lead in ancient Peruvians,Understanding international crime trends: the legacy of preschool lead exposure,Ethyl-leaded gasoline,Next‐generation ice core technology reveals true minimum natural levels of lead (Pb) in the atmosphere: Insights from the Black Death,The ethyl controversy: the news media and the public health debate over leaded gasoline,The ethyl controversy: the news media and the public health debate over leaded gasoline,Deficits in psychologic and classroom performance of children with elevated dentine lead levels,WHO factsheet on lead poisoning, – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sh…

WHO press release about the end of leaded gasoline https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/08/…

UNICEF report – https://ve42.co/UNICEF

Needleman, H. (2004). Lead poisoning. Annu. Rev. Med., 55, 209-222. https://ve42.co/Needleman1

Needleman, H. L. (1991). Human lead exposure. CRC Press. https://ve42.co/Needleman2

Needleman, H. L. et al. (1979). Deficits in psychologic and classroom performance of children with elevated dentine lead levels. New England journal of medicine, 300(13), 689-695. – https://ve42.co/Needleman3

Needleman, H. L. et al. (1996). Bone lead levels and delinquent behavior. Jama, 275(5), 363-369. https://ve42.co/Needleman4

Kovarik, W. J. (1993). The ethyl controversy: the news media and the public health debate over leaded gasoline, 1924-1926 https://ve42.co/Kovarik2

Edelmann, F. T. (2016). The life and legacy of Thomas Midgley Jr. In Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania https://ve42.co/Edelmann

More, A. F. et al. (2017). Next‐generation ice core technology reveals true minimum natural levels of lead (Pb) in the atmosphere: Insights from the Black Death. GeoHealth, 1(4), 211-219. https://ve42.co/More1

McFarland, M. J., et al. (2022). PNAS 119(11), e2118631119. https://ve42.co/McFarland

Kovarik, W. (2005). Ethyl-leaded gasoline. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 11(4), 384-397. https://ve42.co/Kovarik3

Nevin, R. (2007). Understanding international crime trends: the legacy of preschool lead exposure. Environmental research, 104(3), 315-336. – https://ve42.co/Nevin2007

Ericson, J. E., et al. (1979). Skeletal concentrations of lead in ancient Peruvians. New England Journal of Medicine, 300(17), 946-951. – https://ve42.co/Ericson1

Patterson, Claire. The Isotopic Composition of Trace Quantities of Lead and Calcium https://ve42.co/Patterson1

Boutron, C. F., & Patterson, C. C. (1986). Lead concentration changes in Antarctic ice during the Wisconsin/Holocene transition. Nature, 323(6085), 222-225. – https://ve42.co/Boulton1

Patterson, C. (1956). Age of meteorites and the earth. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 10(4), 230-237. – https://ve42.co/Patterson2

Lanphear, B. P. et al (2018). Low-level lead exposure and mortality in US adults: a population-based cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 3(4), e177-e184. – https://ve42.co/Lanphear1

Schaule, B. K., & Patterson, C. C. (1981). Lead concentrations in the northeast Pacific: evidence for global anthropogenic perturbations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 54(1), 97-116. – https://ve42.co/Schaule1

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Written by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, Chris Stewart, and Katie Barnshaw
Edited by Trenton Oliver
Filmed by Petr Lebedev
Animation by Fabio Albertelli, Jakub Misiek, Iván Tello, Mike Radjabov, and Caleb Worcester
SFX by Shaun Clifford
Additional video/photos supplied by Getty Images
Music from Epidemic Sound
Produced by Derek Muller, Petr Lebedev, and Emily Zhang

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