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Article
February 20, 1932

RETROBULBAR NEURITIS DUE TO THALLIUM POISONING FROM DEPILATORY CREAM: REPORT OF THREE CASES

Author Affiliations

BOSTON

From the Surgical Clinic of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital.

JAMA. 1932;98(8):618-620. doi:10.1001/jama.1932.02730340026006
Abstract

Within the last two years, thallium has been incorporated in a widely advertised depilatory from which many serious consequences have been noted. Its damaging effect on the optic nerves will be the primary concern of this communication.

While looking for tellurium in a flue-dust of roasted seliniferous pyrites in March, 1861, Sir William Crookes1 observed a green line in the spectroscope which led him, after further study, to announce the newly discovered element thallium, descriptively named from the Greek θαλλός, or Latin thallus, a budding twig, a word which is frequently employed to express the beautiful green tint of young vegetation.2 This new element was presumed to belong to the sulphur group until the following year.3

Its metallic nature was demonstrated by Lamy of Lille in 1862, when he isolated4 it and described its properties. During his studies he experienced weakness and pains in the legs

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