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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 9, 2010

PHOSPHORUS POISONING IN THE MATCH INDUSTRY IN THE UNITED STATES

JAMA. 2010;303(22):2303. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.696

The recent work by the secretary of the American Association for Labor Legislation, Dr. John B. Andrews,1 on the occurrence of phosphorus poisoning in this country is a valuable contribution to the study of this form of industrial poisoning. Contrary to a more or less widespread impression, even among physicians and dentists, Dr. Andrews shows that phosphorus necrosis of the jaw in serious form is not at all a rare occurrence among match workers. It is true that manufacturers and others claim that the disease has not occurred to any noteworthy extent in this country during the last twenty years; Andrews, however, was able within a comparatively short time, to unearth the records of more than one hundred recent cases. On account of the peculiar difficulties in the way of securing accurate information, the total number of cases and their proportion to the number of workers probably cannot be precisely determined. We learn that the fifteen factories studied (there are sixteen factories in all in this country) employ about 3,591 persons, so that it is clear enough that phosphorus poisoning in the match industry in this country at present is not an insignificant matter.

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