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Disease from Sulphurous Aced Gab



Sulphurous acid, the gas produced by the burning of sulphur, is used for bleaching purposes, and especially for bleaching straw for bonnets. The plaited straw is brought in lengths to the bleacher. It is first soaked in an alkaline solution of potash or ammonia, and afterwards is exposed to oxalic acid. It is sub sequently washed in soapsuds, and, lastly, is bleached by being subjected in a closed chamber to the fumes of burning sulphur. Into the bleaching chamber the workman enters to turn and change the straw. The air is irrespirable, but by learning to hold the breath for one or two minutes, the operator becomes skilful in avoiding a dangerous inhalation of the gas. He rarely escapes altogether from the effects of the gas, and he still feels the effect while the straw is being removed and dried.

The more active symptoms induced by sulphurous acid are those of suffocative cough, which is of short duration upon with drawal from the gas, and does not seem to lead to any serious bronchial mischief. But after frequent and prolonged exposure to the effects of the gas, the system is influenced through the blood. The blood is rendered unduly fluid, the diseased con dition known, technically, as anaemia is developed, and bilious ness, amounting even to jaundice, is, occasionally, an added dis order.

In connection with the effects of sulphurous acid, I have found another class of workers who suffer from it in conjunction with effects from another cause of injury. The class I refer to are the " fellowship porters." I discovered in these men, who are employed in landing merchandise, corn and fish especially, that the workers amongst the corn are affected not only by the dust, which is a source of much irritation, but also by the escape of vapor of sulphurous acid which exhales from grain that has been bleached by the acid. Oats coming from Ireland are often bleached in this way, and smell strongly of the gas. The admixt ure of gas and dust is exceedingly irritating to the lungs, and is a cause of bronchial coughs and spasmodic asthma. The connec tion of dust with the gas must, in this instance, be taken into consideration as adding very much to the distress, and, probably, as accounting for the bronchial cough and asthmatic seizure.

gas, acid and effects