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Disease from Aniline



Since the manufacture of aniline dyes has become a great com mercial pursuit, serious injuries have occurred to the workmen employed in the manufacture of them. The first decisive case of injury from this substance which attracted marked attention oc curred in a lad sixteen years of age, who was brought into the London Hospital, from some aniline works in which he was en gaged, on the 9th of June, 1s61. The lad had been found in a state of insensibility in the interior of a vat used for the manu facture of aniline. He was pale and cold; but that which attracted most attention was the extreme blueness of his lips. The lad re covered, but on the following day lie still remained blue, and his breath smelt strongly of aniline.

Three years later, Dr. Kreuser, of Stuttgart, reported a set of new facts respecting the influence of aniline on the industrials employed in its manufacture. He showed that the vapor, when it does not act to the extent of producing insensibility, causes vio lent dry spasmodic cough. He also noticed for the first time that the vapor produced ulceration of the skin in the lower extremities, with much pain and swelling. The ulcers rapidly healed when the workmen were removed from the influence of the vapor.

Later, Messrs. Knaggs and Mackenzie in this country, and M. Chevalier in France, discovered that a peculiar and extreme neu ralgia is induced by the vapor of aniline. The neuralgic attacks begin with an intense nervous pain in the head, and a giddiness increasing almost to faintness.

Two French investigators, Tardieu and Ronssin, have made some important researches on the physiological action of the red and yellow dyes, by which they have determined that when living animals are subjected to these substances, a fatty change takes place in the minute structure of the vascular organs. The liver, specially, is made to undergo fatty degeneration and the tissues are dyed with the color. From the dye-stuff extracted from the animal organs the experimentalists dyed a skein of silk.

We have no evidence, as yet, that the phenomena of fatty change have ever occurred in the human subject, although it is fairly to be inferred that a long exposure to the vapor would lead to this result.

Aniline Erythema.

The introduction of wearing apparel, socks, stockings, and flannels, made, by new processes of dyeing, to assume a rich red or yellow color, has led to a local disease of the skin, aniline ery thema, attended in rare cases with constitutional symptoms. The disease is, primarily, due to the dye-stuffs. The chief poisonous dyes are the red and yellow coralline, substances derived from that series of chemical bodies which have been obtained of late years from coal tar, and commonly known as the aniline series.

The coloring principle is extremely active as a local poison. It induces on the skin a reddish, slightly raised eruption of nute round pimples which stud the reddened surface, and which, if the irritation be severe and long-continued, pass into vesicles discharging a thin watery ichor, and producing a superficial sore. The disease is readily curable if the cause of it be removed, and, as a general rule, it is purely local in character. I have, however, once seen it pass beyond the local stage. A young gentleman consulted me for what he considered was a rapidly developed at tack of erysipelas on the chest and back. He was covered with an intensely red rash, and was affected with symptoms of nausea, faintness, and depression of pulse, of a singular and severe kind. I traced both the local eruption and the general malady to the agency of aniline dye contained in one of those red woollen chest and back " comforters " which are commonly worn in cold weather. On removing the " comforter" the symptoms ceased and recovery was speedily effected.

Sir Erasmus Wilson gives the name of dermatitis anilina to a local affection produced by aniline dyes, which may be accepted as a severer form of that which I have called aniline erythema. Respecting the effects of these dyes upon the skin, Wilson says that they have been observed both in the hands and the feet from the use of gloves and stockings colored with the pigments. The feet are most frequently the victims, the dyes, in some instances, being transferred to the skin, while in others the patterns of the stocking are represented on the skin by tracings and figures of inflammatory redness. The inflammation caused by the pigments may be set up in the course of a few hours and may present the characters of an aggravated eczema, attended with considerable effusion beneath the scarf skin, raising it up into blebs which sometimes occupy the whole of the surface of the sole of the foot. Occasionally, according to this authority, the inflammatory rash is transferred to the hands, even when those members have not been in contact with the poison, and a general irritation of the entire skin is set up by propagated irritation.

Happily the insolubility of the dye-stuff in water and in the watery secretion of the skin prevents its ready absorption into the body; for if it were easily absorbed it would so often prove fatal amongst the workers engaged in manufacturing it and amongst those who wear clothing colored with it, that it would be a source of public danger. We have seen a little above that, according to the experiments of Tardieu and Roussin, fatty degeneration of the liver was easily induced in the lower animals by the dye, and that the other tissues were colored by it. They further observed that the coloration specially affected the lungs, and it may there fore be fairly assumed that two, at least, of the vital organs must suffer if the aniline obtained admission into the blood and circu lated with the blood through the body.

Up to this time I have not personally witnessed any serious changes of the kind, but while this part of my work was in pro gress I observed that an inquest was held on a person who was assumed to have died from absorption of aniline dye by a wound in the skin.

skin, dyes, local, red, vapor, fatty and yellow