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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 27, 2004


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(16):2027. doi:10.1001/jama.292.16.2027-a

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.