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Disease from Soot



In some way connected, and perhaps closely connected, with the action of crude paraffine on the skin, is the action of soot on the same surface of the body. In the old times, when the chimney sweeper swept the chimney with his little human machines, sweep-boys and youths, and before the cleaner though still un cleanly habits of the sweep, as they now are, were introduced, there was often excited on the body of the worker in soot the pe culiar and even fatal disease, which bears the name of soot-cancer. The disease is produced by the local action of the soot on the skin, and in extreme instances it is so severe that death occurs from it. The disease in these cases commences as an induration or harden ing produced by the contact of the soot with the skin in parts where the skin is enfolded. This is followed by ulceration, and the ulcer is so difficult to heal and so often extends, involving more tissue, that it partakes, as I have said, of the character of a ulcer or cancer. I have myself seen but one true example of this disease, and I learn that now it is rarely known amongst those who work in soot. The workmen are candid enough to admit that by attention to cleanliness, even in a moderate degree, they escape from injury. To be merely begrimed with soot does not suffice to produce actual ulceration; it is necessary for the soot to remain on the body for some time in accumulated quantity for it to pro duce mischief. Then it causes abrasion and soreness, and upon that the ulceration follows. There is an impression amongst the workers in soot that the quality of the soot makes a marked differ ence in the effects of it as an irritant to the skin. Soot derived from the burning of wood is believed to be more injurious than coal soot, and soot from swiftly-burning and slaty coal is held to be more injurious than that from good, solid, slow-burning coal that leaves little ash.

skin, body and action