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Disease from Dusts and Fluffs of Textile Fabrics



The particles of textile fabrics vary in their action, according to the substance of which they are composed. The particles of wool, fluffs of wool, appear to induce no really deleterious effects on the lungs; indeed, looking at the comparative mortality of workers in wool, we might almost say that they are favorably ex empted from disease, as if the soft, oily dust of the wool rather protected the bronchial surface from irritation than irritated it.

To a considerable extent this same rule applies to the dust or fluff of silk, but I have seen an exception to this rule. In the trimming manufactories, where the business of carrying on silk trimming is conducted iu close rooms, I have found the workers suffering from the same kind of bronchial irritation as that which obtains from the dust of wood. According to my observation, this only occurs when colored silk is used by the trimmer, and it is therefore possible that the dye-stuff used for the coloring may be the actual source of the mischief.

My attention was first attracted to this point by the of a young woman being brought to me who was supposed to he suffering from hemoptysis, or spitting of blood. She was, in fact, expectorating freely something that seemed to he, at first sight, deeply tinged with blood. At the same time she exhibited no symptoms of disease which indicated consumption or other se rious affection of the lungs, and was so healthy, generally, that except for a slight cough, it might have been assumed against her that she was simulating the very serious malady from which it was presumed she was suffering. I took the precaution to exam ine the colored secretion microscopically, and detected in it the fibre of silk, colored with red substance. On inquiry upon this, I found that the young woman was engaged in a trimming manu factory, in which red silk was being, at that time, largely used, and that she derived the red particles from the dust or flue which she inhaled. Other women in the same business were, I discovered, similarly affected, but suffered only from irritative cough when they were using red or other colored silks. White silks did not cause irritation, from which fact I draw the inference that the dye-stuff rather than the material is the irritant.

The mortality from workers in wool, cotton, and silk is, rather high, namely, one hundred and nine to one hundred as the mean of the seventy other occupations. The mortality of the draper who is exposed in his shop to the dusts of these sub stances is also high, namely, one hundred and eight. The mor tality of those who work in cotton and flax is more remarkable; it stands at one hundred and fifteen as compared with one hun dred as the mean or standard.

Disease from Copperas Dust.

Fine particles of some of the soluble salts of iron, especially copperas or sulphate of iron, are sometimes inhaled. One salt, copperas or sulphate of iron, which is used in fur dyeing for mak ing the skins black, is in this way injurious. After the skins have been treated with a solution of the salt they are dried and beaten with a bat, and thoroughly brushed. The copperas dust diffused freely through the air is an excessive temporary irritant to the lungs, but the solubility of it seems to rednce its power as a pro moter of permanent disease in the lung tissue. Its action on the bronchial surface is therefore less destructive than that of many other irritating substances. Owing to its solubility, and to its cor rosive action on bony substances, copperas dust is, however, de structive to the teeth, which are almost invariably affected by it. The teeth are rendered brittle, and generally carious. The grind ing down of the color stuffs from the large crystals into the state of fine powder leads to similar bad results.

dust, silk, wool, copperas, red and particles