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Journal of Occupational Health
Vol. 40 (1998) No. 1 P 55-60



Gender and Hierarchical Differences in Lead-Contaminated Japanese Bone from the Edo Period: Tamiji NAKASHIMA, et al. Department of Anatomy and Anthropology, University of Occupational and Environmental Health, Japan—Objectives: We analyzed lead concentrations in bones from both genders of the Japanese samurai class and compared findings with those of the farmer and fisherman classes in the Edo period (1603-1867) to clarify gender and hierarchical (or occupational) differences in lead exposure during the Japanese feudal age. Methods: Tests were performed by atomic absorption. Results: Female samurai bones (30.5, μg Pb/g dry bone) showed higher lead concentrations than male samurai bones (15.6μg Pb/g dry bone), but these differences were not significant. This tendency was also seen in the farmer and fisherman classes (male: 1.0μg Pb/g dry bone; female: 1.7μg Pb/g dry bone). Strong hierarchical differences between samurai and farmer/fisherman classes were seen in both genders in this study (p<0.001). One of the female samples from the Samurai class, who was a daughter of the 6th feudal lord in Kokura (Japan), had 945.5 μg Pb/g dry bone. Conclusion: The samurai class were the aristocrats of society. We assume that facial cosmetics (white lead) comprised one of the main routes of lead exposure among the samurai class, because cosmetics were a luxury in that period.

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