Lead has been valued for its unique properties since prehistoric times and, more recently, used with significant success in science and technology. But as we know, lead poisoning is a very real issue, especially for children, and our relationship with lead in the industrial age has been complex. We will explore lead from a scientific and historical perspective; why it is so toxic in the home, how it is created in exploding stars, how scientists use it to tell the age of the Earth, and what lead tells us about the rise and fall of the Roman empire. A greater understanding of lead and our relationship with it may help us work more effectively to address the urgent problems we have with this element in our communities and will certainly give us plenty of interesting things to think about.
This talk will be presented by Dave Haffner, an Earth scientist who works on measuring stratospheric ozone and air pollution with NASA. He previously studied the chemistry of the Earth and oceans at U.C. San Diego and environmental impacts of heavy metal mining working with the U.S. Geological Survey.