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Disease from Copper Smoke Vapors



The action of copper smoke vapor, on those who are exposed to it, is to produce asthmatic seizures in the older operatives in addition to a bronchial irritation which it excites in the younger. The smoke is extremely destructive to vegetation. Its influence on vegetation may, indeed, be summed up in one word, corrosive.

Although the fumes are called copper smoke, the amount of copper in them is minute. One half per cent., only, exists in the deposit in the interior of furnace chimneys, and so little is dif fused in the air that none can be detected a few yards from the works, except when the smoke is extremely dense.

The late Dr. T. Williams, F.R.S., of Swansea, from whose analyses we receive the above and the best facts, states that the products of the smelting operation are divisible into two parts, the gaseous and non-condensible, the solid and condensible fumes.

The fumes which condense in the culverts contain oxide of iron, oxide of lime, and traces of antimony and other metals, with a proportion of about 44 per cent. of pure copper; 5 per cent. of arsenious acid; 10 to 15 per cent. of sulphur; 15 to 20 per cent. of sulphuric and sulphurous acids in combination; 14 to 19 per cent. of water.

The smoke which escapes into the air from the chimneys con tains coal smoke in abundance, with traces of arsenic and of sul phurous and sulphuric acids. Williams reckoned that s29,790 cubic feet of sulphurous acid were sent into the Swansea district every week from the copper smelting works adjacent. This acid can be de tected in the atmosphere twenty miles from the works. Sulphuric acid is also diffused with sulphurous. For every fifteen parts of sulphurous acid in the smoke there exists one of sulphuric acid in combination. Upon these acids is chargeable the destruction of the vegetation of the district.

The cattle feeding in the locality are affected with a disease termed by the Welsh farmers " Effydrdod." This disease is an inflammation of the periosteum or membranous covering of bone. The bone becomes thickened in the neighborhood of the joints. There is inflammation of the joints with effusion of fluid into them. The bones are prone to fracture. The teeth sometimes fall out and sometimes decay. Williams, whose description is here again followed, attributes the symptoms solely to the sulphur ous and sulphuric acids. These acids, brought down by the rain, render the grass sour, and the eating of the grass by the cattle causes the peculiar malady.

Disease from Vapor of Hydrochloric Acid.

In some chemical factories the vapor of hydrochloric acid pro duces injurious effects, and, to a certain extent, the action of the vapor is felt by men who use this acid for soldering and other mechanical purposes. The symptoms produced are dryness of the mucous membrane of the nose, mouth, and throat, with suffo cative cough, and sometimes spasmodic difficulty of breathing. In some workmen considerable irritation of the mucous membrane of the nostrils is induced by this vapor.

acid, cent, acids, vapor and sulphuric