The toxicity of lead has been known for thousands of years. In past centuries, it was believed that lead was dangerous only when people were exposed to large amounts, such as when they handled quantities of lead in their work, or when they drank wine cooked in solid lead pots, where the liquid would pick up very high concentrations. Only the most severe cases of lead poisoning were recognized, those that resulted in comas, convulsions, and death.
By the 1920s, scientists began recognizing the alarming frequency of childhood lead poisoning and the effects of the disease on the central nervous system of children.
In the early 1930s, efforts to prohibit the use of lead in interior paint were successfully opposed by the U. S. lead pigment industry. Meanwhile, a number of other countries either banned or severely restricted this use of the toxin.
In 1935, Baltimore became the first city in the United States to address the problem with environmental investigations and lead screening programs.
During the 1950s, lead poisoning rose, due to deteriorating lead-based house paint as