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Plumbum, the Saturn of the Alchemists, has been proved by Hartlaub, Trinks, Hering and Nenning. To Plumbum symptoms have been added those of numberless cases of poisoning among workers with lead and painters, symptoms from drinking lead-contaminated waters from the use of lead in cosmetics and from cases of suicide.
In the old school metallic lead was seldom used, being considered inert, but Boerhaave gave it internally reduced to an impalpable powder for leucorrhea, dysentery, syphilis and gout (Teste). In the form of plaster and "Foulard water" the salts of lead have been largely used as external applications in skin diseases, vaginal and urethral injections and much injury has not infrequently resulted, especially form repelled eruptions.
Among painters and lead manufacturers the best-known symptoms are the colic and drop-wrist. There are set up conditions of kidney irritation with albuminuria, ending in granular degeneration with attendant heart hypertrophy, optic neuritis and blindness.
There is an excess of uric acid in the blood of persons under the influence of lead and actual gouty deposits and gouty attacks have been observed. In one case of lead poisoning there was an enlargement of the knees and contraction of the lower limbs, completely crippling the patient.