Scientists have discovered toxic antimony in Roman pipes | Photo: Toxicology Letters
Scientists have completed research on a fragment of a lead sewer pipe in Pompeii. As it turned out, it contained toxic amounts of the element antimony.
It is not uncommon for specialists and researchers to suggest that one of the reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire was the poisoning of society with ubiquitous lead. This heavy metal was used e.g. to sweeten wine, to fill small holes in aqueducts and to build sewage pipes.
Antimony is a much more toxic element than lead and even a small amount of it in water can cause serious damage to the kidneys, liver and cause a heart attack.
Scientists are currently looking for more examples of lead pipes to find out to what extent they contained harmful antimony.