September 8: A theory that canned food caused lead poisoning and killed everyone on two ships in a Victorian expedition to the Arctic could be completely wrong, says an archeaologist.
The cans of food taken by Sir John Franklin and his crews during their 1845 voyage into the Canadian Arctic were previously believed to have leached lead from soldered joints into the food.
The subsequent poisoning suffered by the crew was thought to have impaired their faculties and been at least partly responsible for the two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, becoming icebound. The crews died from starvation, hypothermia, exposure and disease after abandoning the ships.
However, independent archaeologist William Battersby now argues that the poisoning more likely came from lead piping in the ships’ water purification system.

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