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were exposed by the character of their work.
In some instances the employers also have carried on the manufacture of matches entirely in ignorance of the dangers involved. The manager of one factory even declared to Dr. John li. Andrews, secretary of the American Association for Labor Legislation—who has made an extensive study of the effects of phosphorus poisoning in the United States—that they had gone on for five years in no way suspecting that there was anything dangerous about the material they were using. Their attention was first called to the dangers of the industry, so they said, by an epidemic of phosphorus necrosis which broke out almost simultaneously among their employees.
Ignorance of the dangers of the industry and of the practice of the most fundamental precautions exists to an extraordinary degree. A physician in one of the towns where a match factory is located had under treatment a very serious case of phosphorus necrosis, and when asked what kind of phosphorus was used in the factory where the disease was contracted, replied that he "did not know." Several dentists interviewed stated that they had been unable to find anything written on the subject of phosphorus poisoning, and several confessed that they had been "experimenting," and hoping in that way to learn what to do for their patients.
A searching investigation by Dr. Andrews in the homes of the workpeople of three match factories yielded a total of eighty-two cases of phosphorus poisoning. He quickly discovered the records of more than one hundred cases of the disease, though the belief has been fostered by the match manufacturers that the disease has not existed in a serious form for twenty years in this country.
Unfortunately for the investigators, the labor element in match factories is constantly changing, and it is difficult to find among the employees one whose memory goes back over many years to recall cases of necrosis that may have occurred several years ago. Girls who formerly worked in match factories are difficult to find because of change of
name by marriage, or because of change of occupation and residence. And when finally located these older women often, from reasons of social pride, reluctantly admit that they ever worked in a match factory. Employees now at work in the match factories frequently express the greatest alarm, even when met at their homes, lest the giving of information cost them the loss of their miserably paid positions. Sometimes, however, starting with the statement that they never heard of more than one case, they are later able to recall, after some careful thinking, half a dozen or more specific instances, and to give names and even approximate dates, although it is a fact that employees leave the factory immediately upon learning the nature of their trouble, often without telling their most intimate friends at the bench the true cause of their leaving.
Although complicated by modern methods of machines', the fundamental processes in the manufacture of matches may be described in a few words. The wooden match splint is prepared, the phosphorus composition for the head of the match is mixed : one end of the splint is dipped into this paste; the "green" match is allowed to dry. and finally it is boxed and wrapped.
The processes which are especially dangerous in this industry are all those which bring the employee within range of the poisonous phosphorus. In the mixing, dipping, drying and packing room the danger from breathing the poisonous fumes and from contact with the phosphorus is always present, although it may be much diminished by thorough ventilation and by the rigid enforcement of preventive measures. Also, particles of phosphorus become attached to the hands and are later transferred to the mouth by the employees.
Two kinds of phosphorus are used in the manufacture of matches. One is the red or amorphous variety contained in the friction surface of safety match boxes. This, when pure, is entirely harmless. It is made by baking in a closed vessel the poisonous or white phosphorus—also called yellow phosphorus, because when exposed to the light it becomes yellowish—and is consequently more expensive. The poisonous phosphorus is made from bones, and when sold for commercial purposes is usually in the form of sticks, in appearance not unlike lemon candy. A very small amount of this poison is sufficient to cause death.
Broadly speaking, three kinds of matches are manufactured. One is the "safety" match, which must be struck on a prepared surface on the box. This match contains no phosphorus, and is harmless. The igniting composition is painted on the box, and contains red phosphorus, which, when pure, is nonpoisonous. Although used extensively in Europe, its manufacture in this country is limited.
The second kind of match can be struck on any ordinary rough surface, and is called the "strike-anywhere" phosphorus match. This is the familiar parlor match. As made in America, the paste for the head of this ordinary match contains poisonous phosphorus, the direct cause of "phossy jaw."
The third variety of match also possesses the desirable quality of striking anywhere, and is at the same time nonpoisonous. This is the strike-anywhere match now manufactured and used in those countries where public sentiment has been sufficiently aroused to prohibit the use of white phosphorus in matchmaking, and, as we have seen, it is made of sesqui-sulphide of phosphorus. For twelve years, in France, this substitute has been successfully employed, and its use has been extended to several other countries, which have absolutely prohibited the manufacture, importation and sale of matches made from white phosphorus.
Several years ago the Diamond Match Company, the biggest concern of its kind, with giant factories in Ohio, Wisconsin, Maine. Michigan, New York and California, demonstrated the practicability of manufacturing the nonpoisonous "strike-anywhere" match in this country, and put thousands of boxes upon the market laleled "These matches do not contain phosphorus. A new discovery."
It cost a little more to manufacture, however, and as the public, unaware of the perils of white phosphorus, did not demand it, it was abandoned. The writer
was shown a box of these matches by Dr. John B. Andrews, who struck several of them on wood and cloth and other objects. Although they were manufactured four or five years ago they ignited perfectly, completely refuting the statement that has been made that while successful in Europe they cannot be manufactured and used in America "owing to climatic conditions."
Now the Diamond Match Company had acquired the American patent rights from the French chemists who discovered sesqui-sulphide. When the investigation conducted jointly by Dr. Andrews and the Bureau of Labor revealed the shocking nature of the disease caused by the white phosphorus, the American Association for Labor Legislation brought all its influence to bear on the Diamond Match Company to induce them, in the interests of humanity, to surrender their monopoly in the harmless match. The present president of the company, Mr. Edward R. Stettinius, happens to be an unusual type of trust president, with a distinctly philanthropic turn of mind. During the two years that he has been connected with the match industry he has made every effort to improve the working conditions of the employees.
But the proposition which Dr. Andrews made on behalf of his Association meant the surrendering of rights which it had cost the match company about one hundred thousand dollars to acquire. Nevertheless, Mr. Stettinius laid the matter before his directors, and expressed his personal approval of the suggestion. The board was amazed and indignant. "What! Present our competitors with a patent worth $100,000! You must be crazy," they said, in effect. Stettinius pointed out the unenviable position in which the company stood. "Phossy jaw" could no longer be denied, and they possessed the only remedy. To cut a long story short, Stettinius eventually carried the day, and on January 6th, 1911, the patent rights of sesquisulphide of phosphorus were transferred to three trustees,—Professor E. R. A. Seligman of Columbia University, Charles P. Neill, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor, and Jackson Ralston, Attorney for the American Federation
cancelled their proprietary rights in Order that "phossy jaw" might be abolished without delay.
The only excuse remaining, therefore, for the continuance of white phosphorus and the resultant "phossy jaw" is one of dollars and cents, the match companies using the poison having an unfair advantage over those using the slightly more expensive substitute. However, companies producing in the aggregate over ninety per cent, of the total product have promised to discontinue the use of the poison as soon as a uniform prohibitive regulation can be secured. The next move of the Association for Labor Legislation was therefore to prepare a bill securing national legislation on the
Box Of Matches Made At Wisconsin Factory Six Years Ago. These matches were made without poisonous phosphorus, and tbey strike perfectly on all rough surfaces. On account of slight increase in cost the manufacturers discontinued usin>? the harmless substitute.
subject, which was introduced in Congress by Representative John Esch of La Crosse, Wisconsin, on December 19th, 1910. This bill now in the hands of the Committee on Ways and Means provides for a tax upon all manufacturers of white phosphorus matches of one thousand dollars a year, and a further tax of one cent upon every hundred white phosphorus matches, which must be put up in special packages bearing Internal Revenue stamps.
The objectionable match would thus be taxed out of existence, and the harmless substitute, costing less than five per cent, more than the present match, would come into general use.
One match superintendent, the father of a family, spoke feelingly to Dr. Andrews of the possibilities of the harmless match, and expressed great regret that it had been withdrawn. "There was a great satisfaction in working without a lot of poison around," he said, "and then it was worth a whole lot to know you were putting out a match with a head that a baby might suck and still not die."
And that brings to me to another phase of the poisonous match peril—one that vitally affects every mother and father in the United States. While the writer was chatting to Dr. Andrews the mail carrier brought him a letter. He read it and handed it to me. "There are many like it in my desk," he said, sadly. Here it is:
'"Dr. John 1!. Andrews,
New York. "Dear Sir:
It pleases me more than I can express myself to think someone in this world has taken an interest in this most awful match business. I and a good many others are ignorant of the fact that they are deadly poison, that is, I was until my little girl ate" them, and also was my husband and so many people that I have spoken to about them. I do hope and pray that something can be done to prohibit the using of this deadly poison phosphorus. It seems that they can make matches without and I do hope you can do something about it. One other case just a few weeks before ours was a Dr. O'Connor's little girl, but I had not heard about it until after our case came up. Had I known I should have called a doctor at once. I was out calling on Saturday afternoon. She was left with her father and baby sister one year old, and of course was playing around the house, and spied the holder on the table that had the matches. She ate six or eight, so far as we can find out, but when she was taken sick to her stomach at night I did not think for one moment it was matches that had made her sick. I thought it wras her supper and gave her something to settle her stomach. She seemed to be all right and slept the rest of the night and played as
lively as could be all Monday, and slept well Monday night, except towards morning, when she got real fussy, so I took her in bed with me, and it seemed so hard to warm her, she was so cold, and when I did succeed in getting her warm I put her in her little bed again.
She then slept till nine Tuesday a. m. I dressed her and sat her on the kitchen table while I fixed her breakfast, and when I turned to feed her she was asleep again, but I thought nothing of it. She kept it up all morning, falling asleep whenever I left her, so I was alarmed and sent for the doctor. She wanted to be on my lap all the time, so I held her. I told the doctor about her eating matches, but not because I thought it was they that made her sick, but I just happened to mention it. It was then I was told of the other little one dying from eating them, but it was too late to do anything for our little one, the poison had a dcadlv hold of her. She got unconscious and slept away. The doctor did all in his power to save her. Metta, who was only two years old, died at seven on Thursday a. m. We took her to Ann Arbor to bury her. . . . Yours truly,
Mrs. J. C. Morris, 579 Toledo Avenue, Detroit.
P. S.—Matches were pink with white tip. Dr. O'Connor lives on Dix Avenue, Detroit, Mich."
So. you see, it isn't only the poorly paid wage earner who must be protected from the deadly white phosphorus match, for it is also a menace to .every American home. Almost daily the newspapers record the death of some helpless babe who, like little Metta Morris, has been attracted by the colored tips of the matches and has died a terrible death as a result. The O'Connor child referred to in Mrs. Morris' pathetic letter was Margaret E. O'Connor, the twenty-three months' old daughter of Dr. and Mrs. M. W. O'Connor, of 615 Dix Avenue, Detroit, who died in great agony as a result of having eaten the blue and red head? of a number of matches last September. Dr. O'Connor called in Dr. W. A. Harper, a neighbor, and they worked for several hours trying to save the child's life. Margaret, while unwatched for a short time, went into a bedroom, where she climbed upon a bed and reached from a bookcase a tin box containing the matches.
Then there was John Henry Acker, a boy of four, who ate the heads of twenty Black Diamond matches at Monroe, Michigan, in January, 1910, and died two days afterwards; Edwin K. Woods, Jr., two years old, son of Dr. E. K. Woods, of Indiana. Pennsylvania, and Raymond B. McGuire, eleven months old, of Depew, New York, who both met a similar fate in May, 1910, followed a week or so afterwards by Carl I. Stone, the two year old son of Frank Stone. 365 Hamblin Avenue, Battle Creek, Michigan, who died through eating the white tips of twenty, match heads. On June 2, 1910, Dorothy Hartle, the two year old daughter of Mrs. Samuel Hartle, died at Fort Wayne, Indiana, through eating the heads of more than forty matches. Other cases have since been reported from Birmingham, Alabama; Sidell, Illinois; Bronx, New York; Buffalo,
New York; Livonia, New York; Indianapolis, Indiana, and many other points.
Yv hile it is a decided shock to discover that our faithful friend the match is capable of causing such tragedies in our homes, it is comforting to realize that we have on hand a substitute that is in every way as efficient, and common sense as well as common humanity demands that we should insist on the banishment from our factories and homes of a poison which has already caused untold suffering through the efforts of a small body of men to save a few paltry dollars.
And all this applies with equal force to our Canadian friends, who have already gone us one better by putting forward a bill, which will undoubtedly pass the Parliament at Ottawa, absolutely to prohibit the manufacture and importation of matches made with white phosphorus. This bill had its first reading cn November 24th, 1910, and the Act, by the terms of its framing, will come into force on the first day of January, 1912.
In the west, the weary Day
Folds its amber wings and dies;
Night, the long delaying Night,
Rest more precious than a sleep,
These enfold me as I float.
Fainter, fainter, fainter still,
By no breath of passion crossed,
With the tide I drift and glide
—harriet Mcewf.n Kimball.