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Logo of jroyalcgpracBJGP at RCGPBJGP at PubMed CentralJ R Coll Gen Pract at PubMed CentralRCGP homepage
J R Coll Gen Pract. 1975 January; 25(150): 66–72.
PMCID: PMC2157649

Lead in potatoes


There are specific environments where potatoes contain much larger amounts of lead than is generally realised. Nevertheless, if we accept the hypothesis that human adults are only likely to be harmed if they absorb more than 100 micrograms of lead daily for extended periods10 then only in rare instances are they apt to be adversely affected by eating potatoes. Medical data suggest that where children are involved the acceptable amounts of lead are significantly less. However, where potatoes do show evidence of contamination by virtue of their high lead content, the possibility of more general contamination should be investigated. The intake of lead from potatoes, if supplemented by lead provided from other foodstuffs, from air, and possibly from water, can well reach unacceptable amounts.

Patterson's12 claim that most people in industrialised countries are suffering from a chronic lead insult, does seem justified but, because of the remarkable ability of humans to adapt to some conditions, but how much this insult constitutes a menace to heath must be dealt with by medical men.

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Selected References

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  • Everett JL, Day CL, Reynolds D. Comparative survey of lead at selected sites in the British Isles in relation to air pollution. Food Cosmet Toxicol. 1967 Feb;5(1):29–35. [PubMed]
  • REPORT of I C R P Committee II on Permissible Dose for Internal Radiation (1959), with bibliography for biological, mathematical and physical data. Health Phys. 1960 Jun;3:1–380. [PubMed]
  • Méranger JC, Smith DC. The heavy metal content of a typical Canadian diet. Can J Public Health. 1972 Jan-Feb;63(1):53–57. [PubMed]
  • SCHROEDER HA, BALASSA JJ. Abnormal trace metals in man: cadmium. J Chronic Dis. 1961 Aug;14:236–258. [PubMed]

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