Professor Derek Bryce-Smith of Reading University, Berkshire, England was the scientist who alerted the world to the dangers of lead in petrol. Bryce-Smith’s scientific arguments showing the distribution of lead into the environment by vehicles led New Scientist to dub him the “scourge of the lead industry”. His efforts played a key role in the introduction of unleaded petrol.
Professor Bryce-Smith believed that the scientist must be socially responsible, willing to confront and, where necessary, oppose the dogma and financial interests of the establishment.
His uncompromising approach undoubtedly cost him commercial opportunities and may have been detrimental to his academic career. “It was a very lonely battle for a very long time,” he said. “A lot of my colleagues looked at me sideways, because many research chemists are in debt to the oil industry, which provides them with money for research.”
What Bryce-Smith discovered was that zinc is depleted from the body because it is needed to lock up and flush out the lead. He noted that zinc is required for proper sense of taste and smell – and the deficiency can cause loss of both. Professor Bryce-Smith developed a zinc test which works on the basis that the more deficient in zinc you are, the less you are able to taste the test liquid. Zincatest is still available to buy.
The Zinc Solution
After his retirement from Reading University in 1991, Bryce Smith pursued his interests into nutritional disorders, including the factors that influence foetal development, stillbirths and behavioural aspects. He co-authored a book called ‘The Zinc Solution’.
Some years ago Professor Bryce-Smith told me how disappointed he was when that book went out of print. We talked about how he might get it self-published. That was before the advent of the internet, however, and he didn’t manage to re-publish. This valuable little book is still widely available second-hand.
Make the connection
Professor Bryce-Smith was a rare breed of academic. The university system would now struggle to accommodate a character with such an independence of mind. His commitment and contributions to environmental chemistry were recognised in 1984 when he was awarded the John Jeyes silver medal and endowed lectureship by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Having known Professor Derek Bryce-Smith, I have no doubt that – were he alive today – he would make the connection between the loss of sense of smell observed in Covid-19 – and the fact that zinc is rapidly depleted by infection. And I believe he would be encouraging people to take the zinc test and ensure that their zinc levels are adequate.
You can buy Zincatest here
Dr Campbell on zinc
Dr Campbell’s excellent podcast on zinc and Covid-19 covers studies done in Spain and India which have demonstrated that Covid patients who had low zinc low zinc status were more than twice as likely to suffer complications and die, than patients who had adequate zinc status.
Note, too, in the podcast, that zinc deficiency impairs taste and smell (a known symptom of Covid infection).