Harvard, UMaine study on human-made lead air pollution featured in Popular Science

An analysis of ice core data and historical records conducted by scientists from Harvard University and the University of Maine Climate Change Institute was the focus of the Popular Science article, “A 14th-century plague helped reveal just how long humans have polluted the planet.” The study indicates that much less lead occurs naturally in the air than was thought. After measuring lead trapped in an ice core from the Swiss-Italian Alps, the researchers found lead levels dropped dramatically only once in the past 2,000 years, during a time that coincided with the Black Death pandemic, according to the article. This means that in Europe, lead levels in the air have been elevated for thousands of years, the article states.