JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Assistant Editor.
The Department of Agriculture has been investigating the amount of arsenic
used in coloring wall papers and in preserving articles of clothing. Samples
of wall paper were purchased in the open market in Washington and examined.
Only four samples contained more than 0.1 grain to the square yard. This is
the maximum quantity allowed by the law of Massachusetts, which is the only
state in the Union having a law regulating the use of arsenic in wall paper
and wearing apparel. Several samples of stockings were examined, and a number
were found to be heavily charged with the poison. Black stockings seemed to
contain a larger amount of the drug than colored stockings. Furs and fur rugs
were found to contain from 20 to 1,700 times as much arsenic as would be allowed
by the law of Massachusetts. Poisoning caused by wearing garments containing
arsenic is a very real danger and menace to health, which is probably often
overlooked. Many cases of arsenical poisoning of obscure origin, no doubt,
might be traced to a small abrasion of the skin of the feet or neck being
brought into contact with hosiery or furs containing arsenic. This is another
factor in the etiology of disease, for which the practitioner must watch until
the government shall control the matter.
THE DANGER FROM ARSENIC IN CLOTHING.. JAMA. 2004;292(16):2027. doi:10.1001/jama.292.16.2027-a