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.
Other great resources you should check out:
Bill Bryson has a chapter in his fantastic “A Short History of Nearly Everything”
Radiolab have a wonderful podcast: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/...
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey has a wonderful episode – S1E7 which does a great job of telling the story of Clair Patterson
A fantastic Mental floss article – https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/9...
Much of the lead-crime hypothesis data is from Rick Nevin’s work – https://ricknevin.com/
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, Ivy 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