This section is from the book "A Treatise On Therapeutics, And Pharmacology Or Materia Medica Vol1", by George B. Wood. Also available from Amazon: Part 1 and Part 2.
* A case is recorded in which the disease originated from inhaling the fumes of old painted wood undergoing combustion; the poison arising no doubt from the carbonate of lead in the paint. (Journ. dePharm. et Chim., Mai, 1866, p. 384.) - Notes to the third edition.
+ In many instances, the source of the poisoning is very obscure, and requires a close investigation for its discovery; but the symptoms are so peculiar that they must always lead to suspicion, however little apparent cause there may be even to imagine the presence of lead. Thus, the workingpeople in a factory in France, whose business was to give a certain vitreous coating to iron, were attacked with the symptoms of lead-poisoning, which, on investigation, were found to be owing to the use of a kind of crystalline matter, containing a small proportion of oxide of lead. In the process of manufacture, this material was reduced to a fine powder, which was more or less agitated, causing the suspension of some particles in the air, which, being inhaled, were the source of the mischief. (Dr. Archambault, Arch. Gen. de Med, Avril, 1861, p. 129.) The same result would probably follow exposure to the dust of powdered flint glass, or any other containing lead. (Note to the third edition).
Carbonic acid water is capable of dissolving a small proportion of lead. I have known of two cases of colica pictonum produced by drinking, every morning, the first draught from a soda-water fountain; in the leaden pipe proceeding from which, the liquid had been allowed to stand over night The use of fermented and spirituous liquors containing lead has been a fruitful source of poisoning. Cider has sometimes been kept in leaden vats, or vessels having lead in or about them, and thus become impregnated with malate or acetate of lead with the most fatal effects. I have been informed of cases of lead colic, produced by drinking cider which had been allowed to run from the press through a spout of that metal. Wines have become poisonous in a similar manner; and sometimes also by the purposed addition of metallic lead, or acetate of lead, to improve their flavour. I have seen an account of large numbers of a regiment in the East Indies having been poisoned by drinking arrack containing lead.
Even the metal itself, in the ordinary state in which it exists of partial oxidation upon the surface, is not without effect. Lead-poisoning has been produced by the habitual chewing of sheet-lead, such as lines the tea-chests from China.*
I have given the above particulars by no means as illustrating all the sources of lead-poisoning, but as examples, which may serve to direct the inquiries of the inexperienced practitioner, in any suspected case of the kind.