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U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
CHAS. P. NEILL, Commissioner

BULLETIN OF THE UNITED STATES\
/ W H O L E 1 O fl
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS/ * ’ # \ NUMBER iL\)
INDUSTRIAL

ACCIDENTS

AND

HYGIENE

SERIES:

HYGIENE OF THE
PAINTERS’ TRADE




MAY 13, 1913

WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
1913

No.

2




CONTENTS.
Hygiene of the painters’ trade:
Introduction.................................................................................................
Composition of paint....................................................................................
Physiological effects produced by the liquid constituents of paint_
_
Linseed oil......................................................................................
Turpentine......................................................................................
Petroleum spirits, benzine, and naphtha......................................
Benzole...........................................................................................
Wood alcohol or methyl alcohol.....................................................
Amyl acetate..................................................................................
Acetone...........................................................................................
Carbon disulphide...........................................................................
Corrosive poisons............................................ ...............................
Flat-finish paints..........................................................................................
Physiological effects..............................................................................
Analysis of samples of flat-finish paints.................................................
Pigments.......................................................................................................
Relative poisonousness of the different lead compounds......................
Basic lead carbonate......................................................................
Red lead and orange mineral..........................................................
Lead chromate................................................................................
Basic lead sulphate or sublimed lead.............................................
Lead poisoning in factories making sulphate of lead.................. ..
Lead poisoning in a factory using lead carbonate and lead sulphate.
Solubility of basic lead sulphate and basic lead carbonate in human
gastric juice and relative toxicity of the two salts as shown by feed­
ing experiments with dogs and cats (A. J. Carlson and A. Woelfel)..
Relative solubility of lead carbonate and lead sulphate in hu­
man gastric juice........................................................................
Relative toxicity of lead sulphate and lead carbonate when fed to
dogs and cats...............................................................................
Retarding effect of milk on the solubility of lead salts in human
gastric juice.................................................................................
Summary of conclusions on solubility and feeding experiments...
Methods of using and removing paint..........................................................
Use of dry lead salts..............................................................................
Dry sandpapering of lead-painted surfaces...........................................
Importance of dust as a cause of lead poisoning....................................
Moist rubbing of lead-painted surfaces..................................................
Removing old paint...............................................................................
Danger from dusty clothing, etc............................................................
Danger from paint on unwashed hands and face...................................
House painting.............................................................................................
3




Page.
5-7
7-14
9-14
9,10
10,11
11,12
12
13
13
13
14
14
14-17
14-16
16,17
18-32
1S-22
19
19
19
19
19-21
21,22
22-32
23-25
25-29
29-31
31, 32
32-38
33
33,34
34, 35
35
35, 36
36
36-38
38

4

CONTENTS.

Hygiene of the painters' trade—Concluded.
P^ge.
Sign painting................................................................................................
39
Ship painting................................................................................................ 40-42
Wagon and carriage painting........................................................................ 42,43
Automobile painting.................................................................................... 43,44
Railway car painting.................................................................................... 44,45
Agricultural implements, structural iron, etc..............................................
45
Furniture, picture frames, moldings, etc.....................................................
45
Lead poisoning among painters in Europe................................................... 45-48
Germany................................................................................................
46
Great Britain......................................................................................... 46,47
Austria................................................................................................... 47,48
Lead poisoning among painters in the United States.................................. 48-60
Sources of information........................................................................... 48-60
Experience of Prudential Insurance Co.........................................
49
Report of Illinois Commission on Occupational Diseases...............
49
Records of hospitals in Chicago, Philadelphia, Camden, and Cin­
cinnati.........................................................................................
49
Report of New York State Factory Investigating Commission___
49
Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor, No. 95.................
49
Study of a local district council of painters in Chicago.................. 49-51
Physical examination of 100 active house painters in Chicago
(Emery R. Hayhurst, M. D.)...................................................... 51-58
Histories of 100 lead-poisoned painters........................................... 58-60
Regulations governing the use of lead paints in European countries.......... 60-62
France....................................................................................................
61
Austria...................................................................................................
61
Germany................................................................................................
61
Possible legislation for the protection of painters in the United States.......62-64
Summary........................................ «............................................................65,66




BULLETIN OF THE

U, S. BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.
w h o le no. 120.

WASHINGTON.

may 13, 1913.

HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS’ TRADE.
BY ALICE HAMILTON, M. A., M. D.

INTRODUCTION.

It is absolutely impossible to discover even approximately the
proportion of painters in the United States who suffer injury from
the use of lead paint. In the first place, we do not know how many
painters there are who are exposed to this danger. The United
States Census for 1900 gives 277,541 painters, glaziers, and varnishers,
but since the latter two classes of workmen are not exposed to lead
paint this enumeration is valueless for our purpose. The Brotherhood
of Painters, Decorators, and Paper Hangers also includes too many
classes of workmen for their figures to be of use even for the organized
branch of the trade, and of course they do not include the nonunion
men.1 It is unnecessary to say that the sources of information as
to lead poisoning among painters are even less trustworthy. This
study is presented, therefore, as a tentative report only, a collection
of what can be gleaned from the scanty sources available. In every
case where a statement is made, care will be taken to explain upon
what foundations it rests and how nearly accurate it may be assumed
to be.
This is the most widespread of the lead-using trades, even more
general in its distribution than printing or plumbing, for it is safe to
say that there is no community so small that it does not include at
least one painter.
The industry falls naturally into divisions based more upon eco­
nomic grounds than upon any other. Broadly speaking, we have two
classes: First, the independent house and sign painters, working
now for one contractor, now for another, under conditions that vary
greatly, and using at different times paints of widely differing formulas
and applying them in different ways, according to the ideas of the
1There are 72,500 members of the Brotherhood in the United States.




5

6

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

contractor under whom they work and the cheapness or expensiveness
of the work contracted for. Their employment is largely seasonal
and they have long periods of unemployment,1 but to offset in part
this disadvantage they are, in most large cities at least, members of a
strong labor organization with power to influence in great measure
their hours of work and the conditions under which the work is done.
House painting is a skilled trade, requiring an apprenticeship of three
years, and sign painting an apprenticeship of four years, and these
painters are usually much above the average of wage earners in
intelligence and education.
Between this and the next class come the ship painters, whose work
resembles house painting very closely, yet, owing partly to the fact
that the trade is unorganized, partly to differences in the work itself,
ship painting must be considered separately. The shipyards employ
union men, but maintain an open-shop policy.
The other large class comprises painters who work in manufacturing
plants, factories, or workshops of any kind. This class of men has
much steadier employment both as regards time and character of
work than the house painters. They use the same kind of paints
and the same methods day after day, though, as is true of all factory
work, subdivision of labor brings it about that a painter often has but
one small part of the product intrusted to him, so that his skill is exerted
in a very restricted field. In many factories hand painting has been
replaced by machinery, which dips the objects to be painted in large
tanks of paint and then swings them out over a drip board to dry. In
other factories the paint is sprayed on by means of compressed-air
atomizers. Consequently much of the work can be done by unskilled
or semiskilled men, and many newly arrived immigrants with no
experience in anything but farm work are at present employed in
factory painting.
This class of painters is not organized,2yet union painters may take
employment in open shops, such as railway-coach, carriage, and
automobile factories, and it is not uncommon to find skilled union
painters employed at the better-paid, more difficult parts of the work,
while unskilled, nonunion men are employed at the simpler parts.
No house painter can work for any length of time without being
obliged to employ lead paint to some extent, but in factory work a
painter may use leadless paints entirely. It follows that some classes
of factory work are safer than house painting can be, while it is also
probably true that some of the most dangerous kind of work in the
1 The answers given by 1,388 men belonging to the Painters District Council No. 14, Chicago, in 1911
showed that eight weeks and two days was the average of unemployment during the year (see p. 49.) It Is
said to be somewhat less for sign painters.
2 There is a trade-union of carriage and automobile painters, but it does not control the industry.




H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

7

painters’ trade is to be found in factories. These painters come under
the following heads:
Coach painters:
Wagons and carriages.
Automobiles.
Railway and street-railway coaches.
Bridge, tank, and structural iron painters.
Agricultural implements.
Furniture, picture frames, moldings.
There have been changes of late years tending to increase the num­
ber of painters in some industries and to lessen the number in others.
In cities where brick, cement, and stone have displaced wood for the
construction of buildings, the decrease of painters employed on exte­
rior work has been compensated for by the increase in demand for
interior painting. The French and colonial styles of interior deco­
ration, so popular now, require painting where varnishing and stain­
ing was the rule not many years ago. There has also been an enor­
mous increase in automobile painting, and there has been an increase
in the output of agricultural machinery. On the other hand, there
is much less painting of furniture than there used to be, and there is
an increased use of machinery in factories making agricultural
implements, wagons, and automobiles which lessens the number of
painters employed, for a few men dipping take the place of many
formerly employed in handwork.
COMPOSITION OF PAINT.

In the following discussion of the different constituents which enter
into the composition of paints, no consideration is given to any aspect
of the question except the hygienic. Pigments and liquid vehicles
and driers and the methods of applying them are discussed only with
regard to their effect upon the health of the men who handle them,
without any consideration of the excellence or inferiority of the prod­
uct. The paint which is worst in point of covering power and per­
manence may be the one least fraught with risk to the workman, but
it is the latter aspect only which is discussed here.
A paint is a mixture of pigment and vehicle (liquid portion) either
of which may be harmless or poisonous. Usually there is at least
one substance in paint which is capable of producing harmful effects
on the workmen who handle it; often there are several of such sub­
stances. High-priced paints usually consist of white lead, linseed
oil, and turpentine, the first and last of which are poisons. Cheap
paints may contain as pigments nothing more dangerous than chalk
or barytes, but the liquid portion may be so strong in petroleum
products as to cause acute poisoning among men who are obliged to
use the paint in small ill-ventilated inclosures.




8

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

A good paint is made by grinding pigments in linseed oil and since
the raw oil dries very slowly a so-called drier is added. Oil driers
are made by heating linseed oil with an oxidizing agent, manganese
dioxide, or the oxides of lead, to which is added a volatile oil such as
petroleum spirits or benzine. Japan driers contain gums or resins
and are used in quick-drying paints. Turpentine is added in varying
proportions, a larger amount for paint used on interior work than for
paint which is to be used outside and exposed to the weather. A
typical formula for paint that is to be used outside is the following:
Per cent.

Pigment............................................................................................ .63
Liquid................................................................................................37
Liquid.

Linseed oil........................................................................................ .86.0
Japan drier (44 per cent solid, 56 per cent volatile)........................ .5. 5
Turpentine.........................................................................................5. 5
Petroleum spirits.............................................................................. .3.0

A typical formula for paint for interior work calls for less linseed
oil, because of the tendency of this oil to turn yellow, and contains
more turpentine.
Per cent.

Pigment................................................................................................ 60
Liquid.................................................................................................. 40
Liquid.
Linseed oil...........................................................................................
Turpentine...........................................................................................
Japan drier (see formula above)...........................................................
Petroleum spirits..................................................................................

35
39
13
12

However, in cheaper paints the oil and also the turpentine may
be largely displaced by petroleum spirits.
Gloss paint has varnish added and a relatively large proportion
of oil; flat paint, less oil and more turpentine, but in cheap flat paints
benzine takes the place of most of the turpentine. In cheap gloss
paints, also, the amount of benzine is larger, the oil being supple­
mented by melted rosin, which is mixed with a little linseed oil and
then reduced to the required thinness with benzine. On the whole,
it may be said that the cheaper the paint the less danger there is from
poisonous pigments and the greater the danger from volatile poisons
in the liquid vehicle. An exception to this rule is the use of paints
very rich in turpentine, as, for instance, in the painting of the cabins
of ships, where the last coat consists of zinc white and white lead in
a vehicle that is almost pure turpentine.
Other volatile substances with which the painter may come in
contact more or less are benzole, amyl acetate, acetone, and wood
alcohol.




H YGIENE OF THE PAINTERS* TRADE.

9

PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS PRODUCED BY LIQUID CONSTITUENTS OF PAINT.

LINSEED OIL.

It has long been believed that surfaces freshly painted with white
lead in linseed oil give off fumes or emanations which may cause
more or less distressing symptoms to the painters and still more to
the inhabitants of freshly painted rooms who are not accustomed
to these fumes. Among the symptoms described are headache,
dizziness, nausea, intestinal pain, vomiting, diarrhea. Such cases
have been reported as caused by lead poisoning, and physicians
have insisted that their occurrence proved the presence of lead in
the emanations from fresh lead and oil paint. Oliver1 speaks of an
outbreak of colic among the sailors on a French man-of-war which was
traced to the fumes from fresh lead paint.
In the Pasteur institute experiments were made under the direc­
tion of Trillat which showed that fumes from white lead paint are
capable of hindering the growth of vegetable molds. This was not
found to be true of zinc oxide paint nor of dry white lead nor of
turpentine. The harmful fumes arose from white lead paint only
and were the result of the mixture of oil and white lead.
Similarly, E. C. Baly, F. R. S.,2 finds that certain emanations are
given off from surfaces painted with white lead and oil, which can
not be obtained from white lead alone, nor oil nor turpentine alone,
emanations which may give rise to the symptoms described above.
However, Baly insists that the fumes in question do not contain lead
in any form, but consist of an ald.ehyde. He made spectroscopic
absorption tests with (1) a mixture of linseed oil and white lead, (2)
linseed oil and zinc white, and (3) linseed oil and basic lead sulphate,
and he found absorption bands from the white lead mixture only,
showing that some volatile substance was given off from white lead
and linseed oil but not from the other mixtures. Dry white lead
gave no absorption bands. He found that this gaseous product
would cause symptoms like those which have sometimes been inter­
preted as due to lead poisoning but that no lead could be demon­
strated in it. One would not expect that quickly developing symp­
toms would follow the inhaling of finely divided lead salts, for all
clinicians and experimenters know that lead is fairly slow in pro­
ducing its poisonous effects.
After finding that these same absorption bands could be obtained
with lead hydroxide and that the volatile substance was an unsatu­
rated compound of great reducing power, Baly concludes that it is
in all probability an aldehyde. The addition of turpentine increases
the production of this aldehyde. If these experiments are con­




1 Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor, No. 95, p. 21.
2 Journal Soc. Chem. Indust., 1912, Vol. xxxi, p. 515.

10

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

firmed, we shall have to regard the symptoms experienced by per­
sons who sleep in rooms freshly painted with white lead linseed oil
paint as caused by a transient poisoning from aldehyde fumes, not
as lead poisoning.1
TURPENTINE.

Of the liquid constituents of paint, next in importance to the lin­
seed oil comes turpentine, used as a thinner and also for its drying
properties. Oil or spirits of turpentine is produced by the distillation
of gum from pine trees. It absorbs oxygen, forming a resinous body,
and this process is hastened by the presence of lead oxide. The
odor of turpentine is distinctive, and all experienced painters know
when they are working with a paint containing it. A new turpen­
tine has lately come into use, called wood turpentine, which is
obtained by the destructive distillation of pine wood and which has
a much more disagreeable tarry odor and does not evaporate as
quickly as gum turpentine. Whether or not the physiological effects
are different from those of gum turpentine is not known as yet,
though painters who have used it say that the odor is nauseating
and they object very much to working with it. House and ship
painters are exposed to turpentine fumes often and for long periods
of time, for turpentine is a constituent of varnish as well as of paint.
R. von Jaksch2 gives as the symptoms which occur in men working
for hours in turpentine-laden air, the following: Headache, dizzi­
ness, dry throat, frequent cough, indications of bronchitis, and
irritation of the urinary system, as shown especially by strangury
and by bloody urine. Turpentine is excreted largely by the kidneys,
and there may be severe pain in the region of the kidneys. Nervous
effects are sometimes produced, excitement, staggering gait, con­
vulsive movements, or even loss of consciousness. There may be
inflammations of the skin of various kinds. Chronic nephritis and
chronic cystitis not infrequently result from long exposure to these
fumes. E. Schafer3 reports a case of fatal poisoning from turpentine
vapor.
In the report of the Commission on Occupational Diseases of the
State of Illinois, in 1911, there is a section on turpentine poison­
ing. The investigators (E. R. Hayhurst, M. D.; T. E. Flynn, M. D.;
and R. H. Nicholls) made a detailed examination of 62 painters and
vamishers in Chicago. They tried to select older workmen who had
been employed chiefly in indoor work, and to rule out as far as
possible all cases of lead poisoning. The men were between the
i It is well to remember that Baly’s experiments were made with pure linseed oil and white lead, while
a paint in actual use for intepior work would not be likely to contain more than 35 per cent of linseed oil.
a Die Vergiftungen, Wien u. Leipzig, 1910, p. 405.
8 Germany, Eeichsamt des Innern. Jahresberiehte der Gewerbe-Aufsichtsbeamten und Bergbehorden,
1909. Berlin, 1S10, Bd. I l l, pt. 25, p. 19.




HYG IEN E OF THE PAINTERS* TRADE.

11

ages of 24 and 64 years, all but 17 being under 45 years, and all but
15 having worked more than 10 years. Most of these 62 men stated
that they had suffered more or less frequently from drowsiness,
headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and even vomiting and dizziness
while working with turpentine. Fifty-four had suffered from bladder
trouble at times, 18 of them having been under medical treatment
for kidney and bladder trouble. Twenty-one had had inflammation
of the eyes. Fourteen complained of irritation of the throat and
lungs, and 7 of skin troubles. A careful examination was made of 44
to determine the presence of kidney disease, and 14 of them, or 31.8
per cent, proved to have organic kidney disease.
It is not possible to determine positively how much the turpentine
vapor had to do with these conditions, but it can not be doubted
that it is a fairly frequent cause of inflammation of the bladder and
less frequently of the kidneys. Ship painters suffer more from
turpentine fumes than do house painters, owing to the small un­
ventilated spaces in which they often have to work, and to the large
quantities of turpentine used in the work.
PETROLEUM SPIRITS, BENZINE, AND NAPHTHA.

These are trade names given to the heavier distillation products of
petroleum, with a boiling point between 220° and 300° F. They are
used in high-class paints in combination with turpentine as driers,
but in cheap paints they may form the greater part of the vehicle,
displacing almost entirely linseed oil and turpentine. The pro­
portion of volatile drier in the total liquid content of a paint should
not be over 4 to 7 per cent,1 but cheap paints may contain as much
as 40.78 per cent. The petroleum derivatives are used for many
other purposes by painters. They are important constituents of var­
nish and of paint and varnish removers, usually combined in the
latter with more powerful solvents such as benzole, acetone, and wood
alcohol. When a wall is to be calcimined the plaster must first be
covered with some gummy material to prevent suction, to prevent
the calcimine from soaking in. Different sizes are used for this pur­
pose ; an oil-paint size, or one made of glue, or a varnish size. This
last is a mixture of hard gum, oil, and turpentine thinned with ben­
zine. The painters call it “ hard oil," and practically all of them
complain of the discomfort they experience from benzine vapors
when they are “ hard oiling."
Symptoms caused by benzine vapors in workmen have been de­
scribed by several German writers,2 who note the increasing number
1 E. C. Ladd and C. D . Holley, in Bulletin No. 70, North Dakota Agricultural College, Government
station.
2 Zeitschrift fur Gewerbehygiene, Wien, 1907. Vol. 14, p. 157. Berthenson, Deutsche Vierteljahrsschrift
fur offentliche Gesundheitspflege, Braunschweig, 1898. Vol. 30, p. 315.




12

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

of cases of industrial poisoning from the use of these substances in
recent years. The nervous system is the one most affected, for these
compounds have a special affinity for certain elements of nerve tissue.
There is a sense of pressure in the head, singing or roaring in the
ears, headache, sense of confusion, dizziness, inability to do fine
work, and a loss of muscular strength. The symptoms may be much
like those of alcoholic intoxication, staggering, clouding of the
memory, even hallucinations of sight and hearing. The next morning
the benzine-poisoned painter feels as if he were recovering from a
fit of drunkenness. A very large dose of naphtha or benzine fumes,
as would result from working in a small ill-ventilated place, has
been known to cause labored respiration, rapid pulse, collapse with
complete unconsciousness, and, more rarely, convulsions. Chronic
poisoning gives rise to disturbed digestion, chronic bronchitis, nerv­
ousness, excitability, trembling muscles, loss of strength, and even
impaired mentality. There are also chronic skin troubles, caused by
benzine and naphtha.1
Petroleum, coal tar, is used in combination with rosin and asphalt
in the so-called bituminous composition, used for painting the
water bottoms of ships and for bridges and railway water tanks.
This paint must be applied hot, and it gives off thick fumes which
are very irritating to the mucous membrane and to the eyes and
cause nausea, headache, and symptoms of intoxication. Skin dis­
eases, acne, ulcerations, etc., are said to be more frequent in workers
with petroleum than in workers with benzine and naphtha. Crude
petroleum contains sulphur compounds which increase its poisonous
qualities.
BENZOLE.

Commercial benzole is a mixture of hydrocarbons containing about
40 per cent of benzene (C6 ), a very volatile liquid which has power­
H6
ful solvent properties and penetrates deeply. On this account it is
used in primers on hardwoods, but it can not be used in finishing
coats because it would act as a paint remover, it is so strong a solvent.
Benzole is considered the best substance for paint and varnish re­
moving.
Because of its increasing use in many manufacturing processes,
there has been a good deal written of late, especially in Germany, on
the poisonous effects of the vapors of benzole or benzene,2 and the
Germans distinguish clearly between poisoning from this substance
and poisoning from benzine, which is less volatile and less dangerous.
Von Jaksch3says that the inhalation of benzole fumes may be rapidly
1 R. von Jaksch, Die Vergiftungen. Wien u. Leipzig, 1910.
* Lewin, Miinehener medizinische Woehenschrift, Munehen, 1907, vol. 54, p. 2377.
8 Idem.




H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

13

fatal and quotes a case reported by Beinhauer 1 in which there were
changes found in the blood, a solution of the red blood corpuscles,
hemorrhages into the organs and mucous membranes, and paren­
chymatous degeneration of the organs. The symptoms of acute
benzole poisoning are headache, dizziness, a flushed face followed by
cyanosis, nervous excitement (like that caused by alcohol), hallu­
cinations, delirium, or coma. In chronic cases there is inflammation
and ulceration of the gums and lips, as in scurvy.
WOOD ALCOHOL OR METHYL ALCOHOL.

The greater number of victims of wood-alcohol poisoning have
drunk the poison with adulterated whisky, but since the introduc­
tion of wood alcohol for industrial purposes there has been an in­
creasing number of cases reported in which the poisoning has taken
place through the lungs by the inhalation of fumes. These men have
been chiefly varnishers, using shellac or varnish.2 The symptoms
are hoarseness, headache, ringing in the ears, trembling, difficult
breathing, nausea, convulsive twitching of the muscles, impairment of
sight, a mist or veil before the eyes; severe cases suffer from weakness
of the heart, delirium, coma, and after consciousness is regained more
or less complete blindness.3 This impairment of the sight is charac­
teristic of wood-alcohol poisoning and makes this the most serious
poison the varnisher and painter have to deal with. Fortunately,
during the last two years it has been largely displaced by denatured
alcohol.
AMYL ACETATE.

What the painters call “ banana oil” is usually a mixture of amyl
acetate, acetone, and benzine. Amyl acetate is a derivative of fusel
oil and acetic acid and is used in varnishes, in bronzing, silvering
and gilding fluids and in paint and varnish removers, as it is a very
powerful solvent for gums oi all kinds. The fumes are narcotic,
causing headache, giddiness, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, and dis­
turbed digestion, palpitation of the heart, and difficulty in breathing.4
ACETONE.

Acetone ((CH3 CO) is also a strong solvent of gums and resins and
)2
therefore used in much the same way as amyl acetate. There is
nothing to be found in the literature as to the toxic properties of this
substance.
1 Lewin, Munchener medizinische Wochenschrift, Miinchen, 1896, vol. 43, p. 915.
Casey Wood, Journal American Medical Association, Chicago, 1912, vol. 2.
* R. von Jaksch, Die Vergiftungen. Wien u. Leipzig, 1910, p. 277.
* Th. Sommerfeld, Bulletin of United States Bureau of Labor, No. 100.
2




14

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

CARBON DISULPHIDE.

This very powerful poison, which causes serious damage to the red
blood corpuscles and to the nervous system, is mentioned in a recent
German publication1 as a new ingredient in certain quickly drying
paints. In this country the use of this dangerous substance has not
yet passed the experimental stage, except that it is employed to a
slight extent in metal polishes.
CORROSIVE POISONS.

It was formerly necessary for painters to handle strong bleaching
fluids in preparing surfaces of wood and metal, but these have been
gradually abandoned, and carbolic acid and oxalic acid and potash
are not used to nearly the same extent now as a few years ago.
These are all corrosive poisons, and when they come in contact with
the skin they cause a spreading inflammation, with painful and slowly
healing ulcers. The painters have always objected very much to
their use, and it is largely on account of this that these bleaching
agents have been gradually discarded.
FLAT-FINISH PAINTS.

At present there are on the market numbers of quick-drying “ dullcoat” or “ flat-finish” paints which are comparatively cheap, easily
applied, and require no rubbing. As a usual thing these paints are
leadless, the pigment consisting of zinc white of lithopone or the
cheaper inert pigments. There is, however, a quick-drying whitelead paint made for carriages and railway cars. The Germans have
already called attention to the dangers of these new paints and point
out the fact that rapid drying means a large quantity of volatile sub­
stance in the paint, and this substance is always one of the petroleum
products, with a varying proportion of turpentine. Grotjahn and
Kaup2speak of the possibility of fatal poisoning as a result of work­
ing with quick-drying paints in small unventilated inclosures, and
E. Schaefer3 utters the same warning. If, however, the paint can
be applied in well-ventilated rooms there is practically no danger
attended with its use; and the introduction of a leadless paint for
interior work marks a great step forward in the hygiene of this
industry.
PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS.

In December, 1912, Dr. John H. Landis, health officer of the city
of Cincinnati, reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics that a num­
ber of painters had complained to him of various distressing symp­
1 E. Schaefer, Germany, Reichsamt des Innem. Jahresberiehte der Gewerbe-Aufeichtsbeamten und
Bergbehorden, 1909. Berlin, 1910, Bd. I l l , pt. 25, p. 20.
2 Handworterbueh d. sozialen Hygiene. Separatabdruck, 1912, Leipzig.
8 Loc. cit.




H YG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS * TRADE.

15

toms which were caused by the use of certain brands of flat-finish
dull surface paints in interior work when the ventilation was very
faulty. Dr. Landis requested that an inquiry be made by the
Bureau to ascertain the substance or substances in these paints
which were responsible for the disorders complained of, and in
pursuance of this an investigation was made in Cincinnati in the
course of which nine painters were interviewed, all of whom had
had much experience with this kind of paint. These men were
members of the Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators and were
very intelligent men, able to give a clear and detailed history of
their experience to the examining physicians. Their histories may
be condensed as follows:
After a longer or shorter period of employment with the paint in
question, a period usually of two or three days, dependent on the
closeness of the room in which the work was done, the man would
begin to suffer from dizziness, headache, spots before the eyes, dry­
ness and choking feeling in the throat, burning of the eyelids. Appe­
tite was always interfered with and six of the nine complained of
nausea, four of frequent vomiting. Pain of a colicky character
was felt in the region of the navel in five cases, along the margin of
the ribs in three, and in the lumbar region in three. One man suf­
fered from ulcers on the lips and gums. In the morning there
would be a feeling of “ d op in esssleep had brought no refreshment,
and the man felt as if he had worked all night. Constipation was
not common, but more or less strangury and painful urination was
complained of by five men. One man who had used the paint for
two years had suffered severely from bladder trouble, resulting in a
chronic cystitis. Three years before he had been accepted by a life
insurance company, but at this time he had just been rejected for a
second policy because he was found to have albuminuria. A cystoscopic examination showed catarrhal cystitis.
Disturbances of sight (transient always) occurred in six of the nine
men. Usually the man described it as a veil or cloud before the eyes,
sometimes as floating spots.
Some of the men said that toward the end of the day they could
no longer do the finer work, partly because of dizziness, partly be­
cause of impaired sight. One man fell fi;om the scaffold because
“ everything went black before his eyes/7 another began to stagger
and had to be half carried out into the open air, while another was
blinded and had to be led out of the room. In some cases, curiously
enough, the weakness, nausea, and dizziness were felt when the man
first got out into the fresh air. One man said that he always would
stagger then, though he could walk steadily inside.




16

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

It was evident tha*t the substance which gave rise to these symp­
toms was not any compound of lead, or indeed any part of the pig­
ment content of the paint, but a volatile constituent, with a special
affinity for the central nervous system. This was shown not only
by the character of the symptoms, but by the rapidity of their de­
velopment and the fact that they subsided to a large extent in the
fresh air. The men stated that the paints dried very rapidly, and
that air must be excluded from the room as much as possible lest
the drying take place so quickly that by the time the painter had
reached the bottom of the wall he would find that the edge of the
paint at the top had begun to dry, and a streak would show between
it and the fresh paint applied next to it. Any draft of air would turn
streaky the fresh paint. The worst trouble was experienced by some
men who were employed on a big cheap apartment house. Each
apartment had a tiny kitchen with no outside windows and the walls
were painted with this dull-finish paint. The men could work only
two hours at a time; then they were obliged to go out on the fire
escape for an hour to get rid of the headache, dizziness and choking,
and the smarting and watering of the eyes. On a damp, heavy day
the evils of the work were all accentuated.
ANALYSIS OF SAM PLES OF FLAT-FINISH PAINTS.

Samples of two of these paints were analyzed by the Bureau of
Standards, and the reports of the analyses as given below show
that there is nothing poisonous in the pigments, but that there is
an excessive amount of volatile thinner, in this case benzine with
turpentine.
REPORT OF UNITED

STATES

BUREAU OF

STANDARDS ON

CHEMICAL

ANALYSIS OF PAINT.

Flat-finish paint No. 1.
PAINT.
Per cent.

Pigment................................................................................................................. 60.7
Oil......................................................................................................................... 10.1
Volatile................................................................................................................. 29.2
Analysis.

Probable composition.
Per cent.

Oxides of iron and aluminum......... 0. 3
Zinc oxide....................................... 31. 8
Lime............................................... 13. 2
Magnesia................................................9
Carbon dioxide............................... 10. 7
Sulphuric anhydride.............................4
Sulphur........................................... 3.1
Insoluble......................................... 41. 3




Per cent.

Oxides of iron and aluminum......... 0.3
Zinc sulphide.................................. 9. 3
Zinc oxide....................................... 24. 0
Calcium carbonate.............. ............22.1
Magnesia carbonate......................... 1. 8
Calcium sulphate............................ 1.0
Barium sulphate............................. 25.1
Magnesia silicate............................. 16.2

H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS ’ TRADE.

17

Pigment is lithopone with excess of zinc oxide, calcium carbonate, and magnesia
silicate.
O i l .—Resin not detected.
V o l a t i l e .—Sp. gr. at 15.5° C. (59.9° F.), 0.785; refractive index at 20° C. (68° F.),
1.437. Tests indicate that the volatile is benzine with about 20 per cent turpentine.
Film dries in about 35 minutes, and after 24 hours at 105° C. (221° F.), it is hard and
fairly elastic.
Flat-finish paint No. 2.
PAINT.
Per cent.

Pigment................................................................................................................. 67.7
OiU........................................................................................................................ 10.3
Volatile.................................................................................................................. 22.0
Analysis.

Probable composition.
Per cent.

Oxides of iron and aluminum......... 0. 7
Lead oxide............................................ 1
Zinc oxide....................................... 19.3
Lime......................................................5
Magnesia......................................... 4.4
Carbon dioxide............................... 2.5
Sulphuric anhydride.............................4
Sulphur........................................... 6. 7
Insoluble......................................... 67. 7

Per cent.

Oxides of iron and aluminum......... 0. 7
Zinc sulphide.................................. 20. 2
Zinc oxide....................................... 2.5
Lead oxide............................................ 1
Calcium sulphate............................ 1.0
Basic magnesia carbonate............... 7. 8
Barium sulphate................. ...........53.5
Magnesia silicate............................. 14.2

Pigment is lithopone with a trace of lead and considerable magnesia carbonate and
silicate.
O i l . —Resin not detected.
V o l a t i l e .—Sp. gr. at 15.5° C. (59.9° F.), 0.784; refractive index at 20° C. (68° F.),
1.436. Tests indicate that the volatile is benzine with about 20 per cent turpentine.
Film dries in about 45 minutes, and after 24 hours at 105° C. (221° F.), it is hard and
fairly elastic.

The part of this analysis that interests us is the liquid vehicle, as
the pigment is harmless. The ingredients in the vehicle—oil, turpen­
tine, and benzine—are the same as those found in lead paints, but the
proportions in which they are mixed are quite different from those in
the typical formula given on page 8. The formula for interior paint
given there calls for 35 per cent of oil, 39 per cent of turpentine, and
only 12 per cent of petroleum spirits. In these flat-finish paints the
proportions in the vehicle are as follows: No. 1, oil 25.7 percent,
volatile liquid 74.3 percent, of which 14.9 per cent is turpentine and
59.4 per cent benzine. For No. 2, oil 31.9 per cent, volatile liquid
68.1 per cent, of which 13.6 per cent is turpentine and 54.5 per cent
benzine. This enormous proportion of benzine explains why the
paint dries so rapidly and why currents of air must be excluded
from the room which is being painted. It is clear that these painters
were suffering from symptoms of acute benzine poisoning, compli­
cated in one case at least with chronic turpentine poisoning.
92589°—13----- 2




18

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS,

PIGMENTS.

The only pigments which concern us in this study are the lead
salts, namely (1) white lead, or basic carbonate of lead (approxi­
mately, 2 PbC03(0H )2 ; (2) sublimed white lead, or basic lead
)
sulphate (approximately 2 PbSO 2 PbO, the proportion of oxide being
variable); (3) red lead and orange mineral (Pb3 4 or 2PbO —P b02
0 ,
);
(4) chrome yellow, or lead chromate (PbCr04 ; (5) chrome green,
)
or Brunswick or Prussian green, a mixture of yellow chromate with
Prussian blue. Of these, the first has by far the most general use,
expecially for exterior work. Lead sulphate (sublimed white lead
or basic lead sulphate) has come into increasing use of late years,
sometimes as a substitute for white lead, sometimes in combination
with the latter. There are, of course, many paints on the market
which are supposed to contain white lead, but which are really made
up of cheaper leadless substitutes. The law" of North Dakota requires
that all paint sold in that State be clearly labeled with the ingredients
it contains, and similar “ pure paint” laws to protect the buyer are
now in force in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Vermont,
and bills are pending in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Eed lead has long been held to be the best paint for metals on
account of its elasticity and rust-preventing properties. Objections
to the use of red lead are based on its expensiveness and the fact
that it is troublesome to use. When mixed with linseed oil it settles
and cakes in a short time so that it can not be put on the market
ready for use, but must be mixed fresh by the painter every day or
so. At present there are red lead paints prepared with the addition
of lighter inert substances which prevent the settling; neverthe­
less red lead is being largely displaced by carbon paint, graphite, iron
oxides, chromatized paints, and coal tar paints for covering metallic
surfaces, such as structural iron, bridges, water tanks, gas tanks, etc.
On certain parts of structural iron and of bridges and railway cars,
red lead is still considered essential by most contractors, but for
the painting of agricultural implements it has quite given way to
T
the cheap German para reds. Orange mineral is used largely in
wagon painting.
There is not nearly as much demand for chrome yellow as for­
merly, aniline colors and ochres being used instead. It is still used
for tinting in house painting and on farm wagons and railway coaches.
Chrome green still holds its own, as a paint for window shutters.
RELATIVE POISONOUSNESS OF THE DIFFERENT LEAD COMPOUNDS.

There has been much dispute among scientists as to the relative
poisonousness of the different lead salts. For a long time it was
assumed that the more readily a lead compound dissolved in dilute




H YG IEN E OF THE PAINTERS9 TRADE.

19

hydrochloric acid (the degree of dilution being about the same as that
in human gastric juice) the more poisonous it was. Then Blum's
experiments seemed to show that the action of gastric juice is dif­
ferent from that of a simple solution of hydrochloric acid and that
animals can be poisoned by feeding on lead salts which are almost
insoluble in dilute hydrochloric acid.1 The presence of a little pep­
tone (the product of gastric digestion of albuminous food) was found
to favor the solution of these salts. Leymann,2 therefore, classifies
the poisonous lead salts according to the degree of solubility in
gastric juice although, he adds, other things being equal a compound
is dangerous in proportion to its dustiness.
Among the more commonly used lead salts many would class as
the most poisonous the basic carbonate (what we know as “ corroded
white lead," or “ Old Dutch process," or “ Carter process," or “ pre­
cipitated white lead"), because it is more soluble in the gastric juice
than red lead, but others would place red lead first because it is
lighter and more fluffy. In the dry state (mixing paint or sand­
papering or chipping off old paint) red lead is probably more dangerous
than white lead, but as a paint the reverse is probably true. The
yellow chromate was long considered fairly harmless and factory rules
applying to white lead and red lead were not made to cover the use of
the chromate either in England or Germany. Then K. B. Lehmann3
tested this salt on animals and as a result of his experiments lead
chromate is now considered as about on a par with red lead in harm­
fulness. The sulphate of lead, the basic sulphate or oxysulphate,
often called sublimed lead, is beginning to be an important con­
stituent of paint. For a long time it was considered quite harmless,
for it is very sparingly soluble in dilute acids. It used to be the
practice among English physicians, and still is the practice of some
American physicians, to recommend a weak sulphuric acid drink for
workmen exposed to lead poisoning, under the impression that this
will cause the poisonous lead compounds which enter the stomach to
change into the harmless sulphate.
LEAD POISONING IN FACTORIES MAKING SULPHATE OF LEAD.

Advocates of lead sulphate as a substitute for the carbonate have
often made very emphatic statements as to the harmlessness of the
sulphate, and since the use of the latter is increasing all the time it
seemed desirable that careful investigation be made of the poisonous
or nonpoisonous nature of lead sulphate when handled in dry form,
as a paint, or as a paint dust.
1 Blum, Wiener medizinische Wochenschrift, Wien, 1904. Bd. 54, p. 538.
Bekampfung der Bleigefahr in der Industrie. Jena, 1908.
s Archiv fiir Hygiene, Miinchen und Leipzig, 1892-3. Vol. 16, p. 316.

2




20

B ULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

There are two factories which make sublimed lead, or basic sul­
phate of lead, and in both of them there is plenty of lead poisoning,
because the process is extremely dusty and the men breathe large
quantities of finely divided sulphate. In both places the method of
obtaining the sulphate is essentially the same. The product is
obtained by a sublimation process, the fumes from the furnaces
passing through gooseneck flues to end in large dust bags where the
finer part collects.
The coarser powder, used in manufacturing rubber, falls into hop­
pers from the flues, but the finer, which is the basis of paint, has to be
shaken out of the bags. Twice in their 8-hour shift the men enter
the great bag house where white cotton bags hang in rows like
enormous organ pipes, and walking in among them they beat or
shake them to dislodge the white sulphate which has collected inside.
It is easy to understand what an excessively dusty piece of work
this is, and even if a man wears a respirator some of the dust must
get in. The sublimed sulphate is very light and fluffy and so full
of air that it is difficult to pack down and requires pounding and
stamping.
In one of these plants, where 45 to 50 men are employed in the leadsulphate department, a system of regular medical examinations had
been instituted a little while before this investigation was made, and
the physicians’ records showed that 18 of the sulphate men had been
examined recently. Two of them had to be left out of consid­
eration, as they had been employed less than four weeks, but of the
remaining 16, 11 showed the lead line on their gums and 5 showed
evidence of plumbism, a proportion of almost one to three. In the
second plant no records were kept and no information could be
obtained from the company doctor, but a search among the employees
brought to light 12 recent cases of acute plumbism among the 45 men
employed in the sulphate department. Of course this does not
include all of the lead-poisoned men, and there is no reason to think
that the proportion of men poisoned is lower here than in the first
factory.
This shows that lead sulphate is undeniably poisonous, for the
amount of lead poisoning in these two sulphate plants is as great as
one would expect in a lead-carbonate plant. This does not mean
that the sulphate is as poisonous as the carbonate. The work in both
these sulphate plants is much dustier than in any part of an old
Dutch process factory, except perhaps the dry-pan room of an oldfashioned; plant, and it is dust chiefly that causes lead poisoning.
The sulphate department bears a bad reputation in both factories,
and the men regard the work there as more dangerous than that in
any other department, except the litharge and the open hearths.
The choking dust is the worst feature. Both plants have washing




H YG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

21

facilities for their men, and it is probably true that poisoning takes
place through what is breathed in rather than what is carried into
the mouth from dirty fingers, although the men say that it is almost
impossible to wash the stuff off, it sticks so obstinately to the skin.
LEAD POISONING IN A FACTORY USING LEAD CARBONATE AND LEAD
SULPHATE.

As for the poisonousness of lead-sulphate paint as compared with
lead-carbonate paint, an experiment on a large scale was recently
made and the results, though not absolutely conclusive, are certainly
suggestive. In January, 1912, a railway car company, which had
always used white-lead paint (basic carbonate) in the interior paint­
ing of coaches and also for the outside of passenger coaches, began to
use a paint containing the basic sulphate or oxysulphate in the place
of the carbonate. There had always been much lead poisoning among
the four hundred and odd painters, especially those who were obliged
to paint and sandpaper walls and ceilings inside the cars. Up to
that time no attempt had been made to protect the men in any
way, no facilities given them for cleanliness, no medical care or
instruction, although many of those who did the most dangerous
part of the work were newly arrived foreigners. Soon after the
change in the paint the company entirely revolutionized the method
of treating the workmen. Two completely equipped comfort
houses were opened with every facility for washing and bathing,
overalls and caps were provided and kept in good order, lunch rooms
opened, and overseers put in charge to see that the men made full
use of all these things. Physicians were engaged to examine all new
men applying for work in this particular department and to examine
once a week each employee who handled lead paint. In short, the
rules in force in European countries for the protection of workers in
white lead were followed here.
The physicians’ records covered three periods, the first running
from July 1 to December 31, 1911, during which time the company
was experimenting with lead-sulphate paint and carrying on investi­
gations to ascertain how much lead poisoning there was among the
painters. During the second period, from January 1 to March 1,
1912, lead-sulphate paint was used exclusively, but sanitary pro­
visions for the painters were not yet complete. The third period
from March 1, 1912, to April 20, 1913, represents the present state of
affairs, viz: Basic lead-sulphate paint, excellent sanitary equip­
ment and supervision, and regular medical inspection. During the
first six months an average of 489 men were examined monthly, and
109 cases of plumbism were discovered, giving an average of 18 a
month. In the next two months, making the second period, an




22

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

average of 649 men were examined and 16 cases of plumbism found,
or 8 a month. The third period covers more than 13 months, and
during this time the average number of men examined monthly
has been 639 and only 3 cases of lead poisoning have been found.
Thus the lead poisoning in this workshop fell from an average of 18
cases a month in a force of 489 men to an average of ^ case a month
in a force of 639 men.
The physicians who were interviewed maintained that this great
improvement was to be attributed to the institution of medical and
sanitary care, not to the change in the paint, while the foremen were
inclined to give the credit to the paint. The truth is that both were
factors. Without the sanitary supervision, some men would prob­
ably have been poisoned even with the sulphate paint, but there could
never have been so great and so sudden a falling off of lead poisoning
if the company had continued to use the carbonate paint, no matter
what care was taken. There is no record in the literature of such a
rapid improvement following the institution of sanitary measures
alone.
However, since the experience of this company could not be taken
as absolutely conclusive because both changes had been made at the
same time, it seemed best to make an experimental study of these two
kinds of paint, and determine the question of their relative poisonous­
ness. The experiments were made in the Hull Physiological Labora­
tory of Chicago University by A. J. Carlson and A. Woelfel. They
worked with the sort of dust which painters inhale when they are sand­
papering, and which gets on their hands and faces and hair and cloth­
ing. The specimens of dust were furnished by Mr. A. M. Johnson,
chief chemist of the Pullman Co. Mr. Johnson had two plates of steel
each 2 feet square covered, one with basic carbonate paint and one
with basic sulphate paint. The plates were allowed to dry and then
the paint rubbed off with sandpaper and the resulting dust collected
and tested with human gastric juice and fed to animals. This is Dr.
Carlson’s report of his findings first with the paint dust, afterwards
with basic carbonate and sublimed lead in the dry state.
SOLUBILITY OF BASIC LEAD SULPHATE AND BASIC LEAD CARBONATE IN HUMAN
GASTRIC JUICE AND RELATIVE TOXICITY OF THE TWO SALTS AS SHOWN BY
FEEDING EXPERIMENTS W ITH DOGS AND CATS.

(By A. J. Carlson and A. Woelfel, Hull Physiological Laboratory,
University of Chicago.)
There is no evidence that the lead salts are absorbed from the di­
gestive tract or act locally on the mucosa, except when in solution.
The strongest solvent in the digestive tract for lead salts is the hydro­
chloric acid of the gastric juice, and of less importance the lactic acid,
and other organic acids produced in the course of hydrolysis of pro­
teins and of fats and of bacterial activity. When one considers



H YGIENE OF THE PAINTERS* TRADE.

23

the humane and economic importance of lead poisoning in the in­
dustries, the literature on the action of the gastric juice on the different
lead salts appears fragmentary. It was even assumed until less than
10 years ago that lead sulphate was practically insoluble in the
stomach and intestines. This view led to the practice, still followed
by some doctors, of giving sulphuric acid lemonade to lead workers as a
prophylactic measure. Blum1, Goadby2 Schicksal3 and Beck4 have
,
,
studied the solubility of various lead salts in dilute hydrochloric
acid, in various artificial gastric digest mixtures, and in gastric juice.
All agree that the lead sulphate is soluble in these media. One
of Goadby’s two experiments with human gastric juice (10 c. c.
gastric juice + 0.1 g. of the lead salts, at 37° C. (98.6° F.) for one
hour) appears to show that the lead sulphate is even more soluble
than is lead carbonate (white lead) or lead oxide (litharge). The
second experiment showed practically the same solubility for the
three salts. The work of Blum and Schicksal indicates that the pres­
ence of peptone in gastric digest mixture increases slightly the solu­
bility of the lead salts.
RELATIVE SOLUBILITY OF LEAD CARBONATE AND LEAD SULPHATE IN
HUMAN GASTRIC JUICE.

Samples of paint dust of “ basic lead carbonate” and “ basic lead
sulphate” respectively, were sent us by Mr. A. M. Johnson, chief
chemist of the Pullman Co. Mr. Johnson stated tKat the samples
submitted were typical of the paint dust produced in the Pullman
shops by sandpapering painted metal. The dust samples contained,
per gram, lead corresponding to the following quantities of lead
(determined as sulphate):
Grams of lead per gram of dust.

Basic lead carbonate paint dust

Basic lead sulphate paint dust.

Samples of sublimed white lead (basic lead sulphate) and of lead
carbonate (“ Old Dutch Process” ) not mixed with oil were then
tested. On analysis they were found to yield the following quantities
of lead (determined as sulphate):
Grams of lead per gram of sample.

Lead carbonate
Basic lead sulphate

{l I2aea ’ 1 2g
}vr°e 1 { ! %}average’ -97 g-

1 Blum, Wiener me dizinische Wochenschrift, 1904, Bd. 54, p. 538; Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift,
1912, Bd. 38, p. 645.
2 Goadby, Journal of Hygiene, Cambridge, Eng., University Press, 1909, I X , p. 122.
8 Leymann, Die Bekampfung der Bleigefahr in der Industrie, Jena, 1S08.
4 Beck, Arbeiten aus dem Kais. Gesundheits Amt. Berlin, 1910. Bd. 34, p. 446.




24

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

Normal human gastric juice was obtained from a man 27 years old,
with complete constriction of the oesophagus and a gastric fistula of
16 years’ standing.1
The juice was secreted while the man was chewing palatable food
when hungry. Hence it was normal “ appetite” or “ psychic” juice,
not mixed with saliva. The total acidity varied from 0.40 per cent
to 0.52 per cent.
The results are given in Tables I and II. The lead carbonate
proved in every case to be much more soluble than the lead sulphate
and the lead carbonate paint dust is nearly as soluble as the pure
white lead, while the lead sulphate paint dust is less soluble than the
pure basic lead sulphate. We are at loss to account for Goadby’s
results showing greater solubility of the lead sulphate in gastric
juice, except on the ground of faulty methods. A greater solubility
of lead sulphate than of lead carbonate in gastric juice seems a
chemical impossibility. We note that Goadby records only two
tests and the lead was determined after centrifuging the digestive
mixture instead of in clear filtrate. It seems probable that varying
quantities of the lead salts were present in suspension in addition to
that in actual solution.
Peptone in concentration of 0.2 per cent and 1 per cent does not
have a marked influence on the solubility of the lead salts, but so far
as the influence of the peptone is in evidence it may be explained
as follows: The formation of lead peptone compounds might lead to
the setting free of the chlorine ions in the lead chloride, and thus to
the formation of more lead chloride from the carbonate and the
sulphate. Our figures show that this is not an important factor in
lead poisoning from the digestive tract. (See Summary, p. 31.)
The solubility of the lead salts in pure gastric juice is practically
the same as that in similar quantities of 0.5 per cent hydrochloric
acid. It is therefore clear that the hydrochloric acid of the gastric
juice is the all-important solvent. Pepsin, rennin, and other organic
constituents may combine with the lead salts when in solution, but
if this is the case the reaction does not appreciably affect the quan­
tity of lead salts held in solution.
T a b l e I.—R E L A T IV E SO LU BILITY OF BASIC LEAD SU LPH ATE PA IN T DUST A N D BASIC

L E A D CAR BONATE PAINT DUST IN HU M A N GASTRIC JUICE.
25 c. c. gastric juice+25 c. c. water+0.5 g. basic lead
sulphate paint dust, at 38° C. (100.4° F .) for 10
hours.
Experiment number.

1

((a)
....................... \(b)

((a)
2......................................
\(b)
((a)
3......................................
\(6)
((a)
4......................................
\(b)
Average.............

Lead dissolved.
Grams,
0.0396
.0276
.0582
.0680
.0436
.0400
.0420
.0594
.0473=9.5 per cent.

25 c. c. gastric juice+25 c. c. water+0.5 g. basic lead
carbonate paint dust, at 38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
Experiment number.

.....................

/(a)
\(b)
2 . .............................. /(a)
\(6)
3
..................... /(a)
\(b)
1

Average...........

» A . J. Carlson, American Journal of Physiology, Boston, 1912.




Lead dissolved.
Grams.
0.1964
.2684
.2364
.2284
.2264
.2262

. 2304= 46.1 per cent.
X X X I , p. 151.

25

H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS9 TRADE.

T a b l e I I . — R E L A T IV E SO L U B IL IT Y OF LEAD CARBON ATE (OLD DUTCH PROCESS) AND

BASIC LE A D SU LPH ATE (SUBLIM ED W H IT E L EAD ) IN H U M AN GASTRIC JUICE.
Lead sulphate.
Experi­
ment
number.

Lead carbonate.

Digestive mixture.

Lead
dissolved.

Experi­
ment
number.

Digestive mixture.

Grains.
25 c. c. gastric juice; 25 c. c.
water; 0.5 g. lead sulphate,
at 38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
25 c. c. gastric juice; 25 c. c.
water; 0.5 g. lead sulphate;
0.1 g. peptone (a),0.5 g. pep­
2 ..............
tone (6), at 38° C. (100.4°
F.) for 10 hours.
50 c. c. gastric juice; 0.5 g.
lead sulphate, at 38° C.
3 ..
(100.4° F.) for 10 hours.
1

.........

1(a) 0.1260
f(6) .1210

1(a)
f(6)

.1376
.1284

|

.1500

Grams.
((1) 0.1235 =
Average..................... .....................<(2) .1330 =
1(3) . 1500 -

Per
cent.
24.7
26.6
30.0

Lead
dissolved.

Grams.
(25 c. c. gastric juice; 25 c. c.
I water; 0.5 g. lead carbon1 ate, at 38° C. (100.4° F.) for
I 10 hours.
[25 c. c. gastric juice; 25 c. c.
water; 0.5 g. lead earbon2.............
ate; 0.1 g. peptone (a),
0.5 g. peptone (6), at 38* C.
1 (100.4° F.) for 10 hours.
(50 c. c. gastric juice; 0.5 g.
3............. \ lead carbonate, at 38° C.
1 (100.4° F.) for 10 hours.
1

.........

(a)
(b)

0.2940
.3044

(a)
(b)

.3302
.3100

Grams.
((1) 0.2992 =
Average...................... .....................<(2) .3201 =
1(3) .3896 =

.3896

P er
cent.
59.8
64.0
77.9

It can be seen, therefore, that the lead carbonate is a little mcffe
than twice as soluble as the sulphate.
RELATIVE TOXICITY OF LEAD SULPHATE AND LEAD CARBONATE WHEN
FED TO DOGS AND CATS.

Since it is not possible in experiments in vitro, even when normal
gastric juice is available, to reproduce some of the essential condi­
tions of gastric digestion, the final solution of the question of the
relative toxicity of the different lead salts must be sought by feeding
experiments. Goadby fed various lead salts to cats. Five cats
received from 0.5 to 0.8 grams*dry white lead (lead carbonate) per
day for periods varying from 1 to 18 months. According to Goadby,
this quantity of lead carbonate per day produced practically no
symptoms unless alcohol was given at the same time. One must
infer from Goadby's work that cats are unusually resistant to lead
salts given by mouth. In an earlier work Lehmann 1 showed, how­
ever, that even the slightly soluble lead sulphate produces toxic
symptoms in eight or nine days when fed to cats in quantities of 0.2
gram per day. Blum 2 concludes that the sulphate is less toxic than
the other lead salts employed in the industries.
F e e d i n g E x p e r i m e n t s — S e r i e s I.—Dogs of nearly the same size
and age were selected, and 4 grams of the lead sulphate and the lead
carbonate paint dust respectively were fed to the dogs in ground
meat, either in one feeding or in two feedings, eight hours apart.
The results are summarized in Table III.
1 Lehmann, Archiv fur Hygiene, Miinchen und Leipzig, 1892, Bd. 16, p. 316.
2 Blum, Deutsche medizinische Wochenschrift, Leipzig und Berlin, 1912, Bd. 38, p. 645.




26

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

The feces of dogs A and B (Table III) weie collected for six days
after giving the lead paint dust per mouth, and the quantity of lead
determined with the following result:
Dog B, fed 4 grams basic lead carbonate, containing 4.16 grams
lead determined as sulphate. Lead recovered in the feces 2.61
grams, or 63 per cent.
Dog A, fed 4 grams basic lead sulphate, containing 3.28 grams lead
determined as sulphate. Lead recovered in feces, 3.10 grams, or 95
per cent.
The lead in the feces of dogs C and D was not determined.
T a b l e H I —EFFECTS OF 4 GRAMS OF LEAD SU LPH ATE AN D OF LE A D CAR B ON ATE

PAINT DUSTS W H E N FED TO DOGS IN ONE AN D TW O FEED IN G S.

Day.

Dog A : Weight, 10 K . (22 lbs.).

First.............

2.0 g. basic lead sulphate paint dust in meat
at 8 a. m. and 4 p. m.
Dog normal...........................................................

Second.........
Third...........
Fourth.........
Fifth.............
Sixth............
Seventh.......

Dog B: Weight, 11 K . (24.3 lbs.).

2.0 g. basic lead carbonate paint dust in meat
at 8 a. m. and 4 p. m.
Vomiting; great thirst; polyuria; depression;
some tremors; no appetite.
Dog normal........................................................... Condition same as on second day.
Dog normal........................................................... Eats a little; drinks and vomits frequently.
Dog normal........................................................... Condition about same as on fourth day.
Dog normal........................................................... Considerably improved; eats; does not
vomit; but seems depressed.
Dog normal........................................................... Dog seems fairly normal.

Dog C: Weight, 7 K . (15.4 lbs.).
4.0 g. basic lead sulphate paint dust in meat
at one feeding. Dog developed some con­
stipation, but no other symptoms of lead
poisoning.

Dog D : Weight, 6.5 K. (14.3 lbs.).
4.0 g. basic lead carbonate paint dust in meat
at one feeding. Dog ran practically the
same course of acute lead poisoning as dog
B, with final complete recovery.

F e e d i n g E x p e r i m e n t s — S e r i e s II.— Eight hearty dogs were
selected for this test, and grouped in pairs of approximately the same
body weight. One of the dogs of each pair was fed the sulphate
paint dust in meat, the other one given the carbonate paint dust in
meat. The quantity of the lead paint dusts given each dog was
fixed to equal 0.1 gram lead sulphate per kilo (2.2046 pounds) body
weight. The dogs fed the sulphate paint dust thus received a greater
quantity of the dust, as this dust contained a lower percentage of lead
than the carbonate paint dust.
The results are summarized in Table IV. The table shows that the
dogs receiving the lead carbonate paint dust developed severe symp­
toms of acute lead poisoning within 24 to 48 hours after the first
feeding, while the dogs fed the sulphate paint dust showed very mild
symptoms of lead intoxication only after three or four feedings—that
is, after 72 to 96 hours. Feeding experiments as tests of relative
toxicity break down, of course, as soon as vomiting or lack of appetite
appears, as one can not control the quantity of lead salts eaten or
retained. For that reason the experiment was discontinued as soon
as there appeared symptoms of intoxication in the dogs receiving the
least toxic lead salt—that is, the sulphate.




27

H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS5 TRADE.
TABLE IV .—EFFECTS OF D A IL Y FEED IN G S OF LE A D

N A T E PA IN T DUSTS TO
POUNDS) B O D Y W E IG H T .

DOGS IN

S U L P H A T E A N D L E A D CARBO­
Q U A N T IT IE S OF 0.1 GRAM PE R K IL O (2.2046

Basic lead sulphate paint dust.
Day.

Dog A :
Weight,
6.8 K .
(15 lbs.).

Dog C:
Weight,
12.5 K .
(27.6 lbs.).

Dog E :
Weight,
10.2 K .
(22.5 lbs.).

Dog G:
Weight,
12.3 K .
(27.1 lbs.).

Basic lead carbonate paint dust.
Dog B:
Weight,
7.0 K.
(15.4 lbs.).

Dog D :
Weight,
13.4 K .
(29.5 lbs.).

Dog F :
Dog H :
Weight,
Weight,
10.3 K.
14.2 K.
(22.7 lbs.). (31.3 lbs.).

<»
First... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... Normal.
N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... N orm al... Severe di- Diarrhea; Slight di- S e e m s
Second.
a r rhea;
feces
a r rhea;
normal.
v o m it­
bloody;
otherwise nor­
ing; eats
great
th irst;
mal; eats
a little.
well.
vomits;
eats a
little.
Third.. N orm al... Normal.. . Seems nor­ N orm al... Diarrhea; Diarrhea; Diarrhea; D epresmal, but
s i o n;
depresv o m it ­
v o m it ­
does not
some
sion;
ing; does
ing; eats
e a t as
tremors;
v o m it­
a little.
noteat.
much as
ing; eats
vomitusual.
a little.
ing;
eats a
little.
Fourth Some de­ N orm al... Some de­ Had vom­ Diarrhea; Condition Diarrhea; D i a r pression;
pression;
ited dur­
rhea;
fair; does
v o m it­
does not
eats less
eats less ing ni ght;
ing; eats
vomiteat; great
not eat.
than nor­
than nor­
ing;
e a t s
a little.
thirst.
mally.
mally.
eagerly.
does
not eat.
Fifth... Re f u s e s Slight de­ Slight de­ Slight de­ Condition Condition Diarrhea; D i a r ­
pression;
pression;
pression;
rhea;
food;
fair; eats
fair; eats
v o m it ­
other­
v o mi t weight,
eats less
a little;
a little;
ing; does
depreswise in
than nor­
si o n ;
9.8 K.
weight,
w eight,
not eat;
i n g ;
good
eats a
weight,
m a 11 y;
6.6 K .
(21.6 lbs.).
weight,
12.8 K .
condition;
1 i t tie;
weight, (14.6 lbs.).
11.9 K .
(28.2 lbs.).
9.9 K .
weight,
(26.2 lbs.).
12.4 K .
weight,
(21.8 lbs.).
6.9 K .
(27.3 lbs.).
13.1 K.
(15.2 lbs.).
(28.9 lbs.)

F e e d i n g E x p e r i m e n t — S e r i e s III.—The results of the feeding
tests with the sulphate and the carbonate of lead to dogs do not
agree with those of Goadby on cats. It does not seem likely that
cats have so much greater tolerance than dogs to lead salts per os.
Legge and Goadby claim, indeed, that cats are especially susceptible
to lead poisoning. Moreover, Leymann obtained symptoms in cats
from feeding 0.2 gram lead sulphate per day for 8 to 9 days. How
are Leymann's results on cats and our result on dogs to be reconciled
with Goadby failing to produce lead poisoning in cats on feeding
the more toxic lead carbonate in daily doses up to 0.8 gram for 2 to
18 months ? It is difficult to understand where any material source
of error might be concealed in the relatively simple process of mixing
lead salts with the food, and observing the animals.
Our own test series consisted of four healthy cats, which we may
designate as A, B, C, and D. The quantity of the lead salts mixed
with the food each day was fixed to equal 0.1 gram lead sulphate
per kilo (2.2046 pounds) body weight of cat. The amount of ground
meat, fish, or milk and bread with which the lead salts were mixed
was less than each cat would ordinarily eat per day, so as to insure
all of the lead salts reaching the stomach.




28

BULLETIN OF THE BUEEAU OF LABOB STATISTICS.

Ca t A.—Fed 0.3 gram lead carbonate per day. The first three
days the cat did not touch the food, although a new lot was prepared
each morning. On the fourth day the cat ate about four-fifths of
the food. No symptoms were observed, but the cat did not touch
the food for two days following. On the seventh to the eleventh
day the cat ate about one-fourth of the food each day. No obvious
symptoms of lead poisoning.
Ca t B.—Fed 0.37 gram lead sulphate per day. C *t refused the
food-lead mixture the first three days. The fourth day the cat ate
all the food, on the sixth to the eighth day about one-third of the
food. On the ninth day all the food was consumed, but on the two
following days less than half of it was taken. No lead intoxication
in evidence.
Ca t C.—Fed 0.31 gram basic lead carbonate paint dust per day.
First day cat ate about three-fourths of the food-lead mixture; sec­
ond day cat ate about one-half the mixture. On the morning of the
third day the cat had vomited a considerable mass of partly digested
meat. The cat seemed depressed during the third to the eighth days
and refused all food. During the ninth to the eleventh days the cat
ate about one-fourth of the food each day. There were no further
symptoms.
C a t D.—Fed 0.3 gram basic lead sulphate paint dust per day.
The cat did not touch the food-lead mixture during the first three days.
On the remaining 8 days of the feeding period the cat ate all the
food on 4 days, and on the other days about one-third of the food.
No symptoms of lead poisoning appeared at any time.
This 11-day feeding period convinced us of one thing only, that
mixing the lead salts with the food is not a feasible method in the
case of cats. The addition of small quantities of lead salts to the
ground meat, fish, or milk and bread renders the food mass so unpal­
atable through taste or odor that the cats will starve for days rather
than eat, and one can not be certain of the cat eating even a small
portion of the food on any day. In the test of the relative toxicity
of the two salts it is, of course, essential that all of the salts given shall
reach the stomach each day. The method of mixing the lead salts
with the food was therefore abandoned. A second series of four cats
was selected and 0.1 gram of the lead salts per kilo (2.2046 pounds)
body weight administered in gelatin capsules each morning before
giving the customary food. The results are given in Table V.
The cats varied in weight from 2.5 to 3.5kilos (5.5 to 7.7pounds).
Hence 0.25 gram constituted the smallest and 0.35 gram the largest
dose of lead salts given per day. Toxic symptoms were produced by
all the salts, but the lead carbonate and the lead carbonate paint
dust were distinctly more toxic than the basic lead sulphate and the




29

HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS* TRADE.

lead sulphate paint dust. The toxic symptoms noted were vomit­
ing, loss of appetite, constipation, and depression. The feeding
period was too short for the development of the chronic nervous
symptoms.
It will thus be seen that cats and dogs show about the same sus­
ceptibility to the lead intoxication per os. Lead carbonate and lead
sulphate when given daily in quantities up to 0.1 gram per kilo
(2.2046 pounds) body weight produce toxic symptoms within 2 to 8
days.
T a b l e V .— EFFECTS OF FEED IN G TO CATS 0.1 GRAM OF T H E RESPECTIVE L E A D SALTS

P ER KILO (2.2046 POUNDS) B O D Y W E IG H T E V E R Y MORNING BEFO R E BEIN G G IVEN
T H E IR USUAL FOOD.

Cat I: Fed lead
carbonate.

Feeding day.

Cat II: Fed lead
sulphate.

Cat III: Fed lead
carbonate paint
dust.

Normal................... Normal................... Normal...................
Vomited................. Normal................... Normal...................
Did not eat............ Normal................... Vomited.................
Did noteat............ Vomited................. Normal...................
Eats a little; de­ Seems normal........ Vomited.................
pressed.
Sixth................................ Eats a little; de­ Seems normal........ Did not e a t ..........
pressed.
Seventh............................ Vomited................. Seems normal........ Did not eat............
Eighth.............................. Did not eat............ Seems normal___ Eats a little..........
Ninth............................... Did not eat............ Vomited................. Eats a little...........
Tenth............................... Did not eat; great­ Eats a little; de­ Eats
a
little;
pressed.
ly depressed.1
greatly d e ­
pressed.
First..................................
Second..............................
Third................................
Fourth..............................
Fifth.................................

Cat IV : Fed lead
sulphate paint
dust.
Normal.
Normal.
Normal.
Normal.
Normal.
Normal.
Normal.
Eats a little.
Did not eat.
Eats a little.

1 This cat developed ataxia, paralysis, and opisthotonos on the twelfth day.

RETARDING

EFFECT OF MILK

ON THE

SOLUBILITY OF

LEAD

SALTS

IN HUMAN GASTRIC JUICE.

We were especially interested in the action of milk on the solu­
bility of the lead salts in human gastric juice and weak solutions
of hydrochloric acid in view of the fact that in some places lead
workers are required to drink milk before starting to work. And
practical experience seems to show that milk or other food in the
stomach minimizes the danger of lead poisoning from the digestive
tract. When milk and gastric juice are mixed in the proportion of
1 to 1, lead salts added, and the mixture incubated at body tem­
perature for 10 hours, not enough lead goes into solution even to
get a qualitative lead test. Only when the lead carbonate paint
dust was used, in two cases a positive qualitative test was obtained.
The same results are obtained in mixtures of milk and 0.05 per cent
hydrochloric acid. But when the ratio of the gastric juice or the
hydrochloric acid to the milk is increased, the lead salts are dis­
solved in proportion to the increase in the quantity of the gastric
juice or hydrochloric acid.




30

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

T a b l e V L —INFLUENCE OF M ILK ON TH E

SO L U B IL IT Y OF L EAD SALTS IN HUM AN
GASTRIC JUICE AND IN 0.5 PER CENT H YD RO CH LO RIC ACID.

Lead sulphate.
Experi­
ment
number.

Digestive mixture.

25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
25 c. c. 0.5 per cent H Q ;
0.5 g. lead sulphate
paint dust at 38° C.
(100.4° F.) for 10 hours.
25 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
50 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
100 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10

Lead carbonate.

Lead dis­
solved.

(a) None.
(b) None.

.(a) None.
(b) None.

(a) None.
(b) None.

.(a) 0.0578 g.
(6) .0562 g.

.(a) None.
(6) None.

(а) 0.0126 g.
(б) .0132 g.

(а) 0.0590 g.
(б) .0580 g.

hours.

100 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
sulphate at 38° C.
(100.4° F.) for 10 hours.

Experi­
ment
number.

Digestive mixture.

[25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
I hours.
25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
, carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
[ hours.
[25 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
23 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
0.5 g. lead carbonate
paint dust at 38° C.
(100.4° F.) for 10 hours.
25 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
hours.
50 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10
; hours.
100 c. c. 0.5 per cent HC1;
25 c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate paint dust at
38° C. (100.4° F.) for 10

Lead dis­
solved.

(a) Trace.
(b) Trace.

(а) None.
(б) None.

(a) Trace.
(b) Trace.

(a) 0.3284 g.
(b) .3344 g.

(a) None.
(b) None.

(а) 0.1320 g.
(б) .1218 g.

(a) 0.4010 g.
(b) .4340 g.

hours.

1.1740 g.

I*

100 c. c. gastric juice; 25
c. c. milk; 0.5 g. lead
carbonate at 38° C.
(100.4° F.) for 10 hours.

0.4900 g.

The above action of milk is probably due to the fixation of the
hydrochloric acid by the milk protein and the neutralization of the
hydrochloric aGid by the carbonate of milk. Hence when an excess
of milk is added to the gastric juice there will be no hydrochloric
acid to effect solution of the lead salts, while in the presence of an
excess of gastric juice some free hydrochloric acid remains to act on
the lead. We are inclined to the view that the formation of insoluble
lead albuminates is a factor of minor importance in the abo^e action
of milk.
These experiments in vitro do not reproduce some of the condi­
tions that obtain in normal gastric digestion. The fixation of the
hydrochloric acid by the proteins takes place in the stomach as
well as in the test tube, so that the presence of proteins retards the
appearance of free hydrochloric acid in the contents of the stomach.
But the work of Cannon and others renders it highly probable that
relaxation of the pyloric sphincter and entrance of the gastric con­
tent into the duodenum is ordinarily preceded by the development
of some free hydrochloric acid in the pyloric portion of the stomach.



H YGIENE OF TH E PAIN TEES? TRADE.

31

This hydrochloric acid will, of course, tend to dissolve any lead
salts in the chyme until it is neutralized in the duodenum. Albu­
minous foodstuffs can therefore diminish the solution of lead salts
in the stomach only to the extent that they fix the hydrochloric acid
in the gastric juice.
The taking of milk is a more efficient prophylatic measure than
the taking of an equal amount of other forms of proteins, because
there is less appetite secretion of gastric juice with milk, and the
fat in the milk depresses and retards the action of the gastric
secretagogues.
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS ON SOLUBILITY

AND FEEDING EXPERI­

MENTS.

1. Solubility of white lead in human gastric juice.
WHITE LEAD PAINT DUST.

Soluble in pure gastric juice (25 c. c. gastric juice, 0.5 g. dust):
per cent.
Basic lead carbonate paint dust..................................................................
46.1
Basic lead sulphate paint dust............................... ...................................
9. 5
Soluble in gastric juice and peptone (25 c. c. gastric juice, 0.1 g. peptone, 0.5 g.
dust):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust.................................................................
46.0
Basic lead sulphate paint dust...................................................................
7. 3
Soluble in gastric juice and milk (gastric juice 1, milk 1):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust................................................................. None.
Basic lead sulphate paint dust................................................................... None.
Soluble in 0.5 per cent HC1 (25 c. c. HC1, 0.5 g. dust):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust.................................................................
66. 3
Basic lead sulphate paint dust...................................................................
11.4
Soluble in 0.5 per cent HC1 and milk (HC11, milk 1):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust................................................................. None.
Basic lead sulphate paint dust................................................................... None.
Soluble in 0.5 per cent HC1 and milk (HC1 2, milk 1):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust.................................................................
25.4
Basic lead sulphate paint dust...................................................................
2.6
Soluble in 0.5 per cent HC1 and milk (HC14, milk 1):
Basic lead carbonate paint dust.................................................................
83. 5
Basic lead sulphate paint dust...................................................................
11.7
WHITE LEAD.

Soluble in pure gastric juice (25 c. c. gastric juice, 0.5 g. lead):
Lead carbonate (old Dutch process)...........................................................
Basic lead sulphate.....................................................................................
Soluble in gastric juice and peptone (25 c. c. gastric juice, 0.5 g. lead):
Lead carbonate (old Dutch process)...........................................................
Basic lead sulphate........................................................*...........................
Soluble in pure gastric juice (50 c. c. gastric juice, 0.5 g. lead):
Lead carbonate (old Dutch process)...........................................................
Basic lead sulphate.....................................................................................
Soluble in gastric juice and milk (gastric juice 4, milk 1):
Lead carbonate...........................................................................................
Lead sulphate.............................................................................................



59. 8
24. 7
64.0
26. 6
77. 9
30.0
98.0
34.8

32

B ULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

2. Toxicity o f lead when fed to dogs and cats.

The lead carbonate is much more toxic than the lead sulphate,
but both salts produce acute lead poisoning when given in quantities
of 0.1 g. per kilo body weight per day.
3. The influence of milk.

When milk and gastric juice are mixed in the proportion of 1 to l y
the hydrochloric acid of the gastric juice is so completely fixed by
the milk proteins or neutralized by the carbonates in the milk that
the mixture has virtually no solvent action on the lead salts. But
when the gastric juice is present in excess of the milk, the lead salts
go into solution in proportion to the excess of gastric juice. When
milk is taken into the stomach there occurs, of course, a similar fixa­
tion of the hydrochloric acid, and in addition the total quantity of
gastric juice is diminished owing to the inhibitory action of the fat
of the milk on the processes of secretion.
4. Three practical suggestions.

On the basis of our work, we venture to offer these three practical
suggestions:
(a) The lead carbonate is so much more toxic than the lead sul­
phate that lead workers as well as the State should aim at the elimi­
nation of the use of the carbonate in all industries where this is
possible.
( b Basic lead sulphate, or sublimed lead, is poisonous and none of
J)
the precautions usually advocated for the protection of workers in
lead should be neglected by those handling lead sulphate.
(c) In addition to taking other important prophylactic measures
workers in lead salts should drink a glass of milk between meals (say
at 10 a. m. and at 4 p. m.) in order to diminish the chances that the
lead they have swallowed be dissolved by the free hydrochloric acid
of the gastric juice, as in some persons there is considerable secre­
tion of gastric juice in the empty stomach.
METHODS OF USING AND REMOVING PAINT.

The dangers involved in the use of paint depend upon the constitu­
ents of the paint and on the way it is used. No paint need be dan­
gerous if it is used with sufficient caution. If the thinner contains
harmful volatile substances, these can be got rid of by proper ventila­
tion of the room in which the work is being done. Men suffer from
turpentine, petroleum, benzine, wood alcohol, or amyl acetate poison­
ing because they are required to use these fluids in closed rooms.
The defenders of flat-finish paints, which are leadless but contain
dangerous volatile substances, insist that proper ventilation does




HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS9 TRADE.

33

away with all possibility of injury to the painter, and this is unde­
niably true, for proper ventilation dilutes the poison to a harm­
less point, but they do not take into consideration the fact that the
use of certain varnishes and flat-finish paints precludes ample ven­
tilation. Drying must take place in a closed room because drafts
of air would stir up dust, injure the surface, or make the coat streaky.
The avoidance of danger from the use of lead paints is not as
simple as is the avoidance of danger from volatile thinners, yet
here, too, the method of use is of great importance. The dangers
which the painter who uses lead paints must face are given by foreign
authorities as follows:
1. Mixing dry lead salts with oil or paint.
2. Sandpapering lead-painted surfaces.
3. Rubbing or chipping off old paint.
4. Burning off old paint.
5. Inhaling dust from dirty working clothes and from dirty drop
cloths.
6. Carrying lead paint into the mouth from unwashed hands
while eating or while handling tobacco.
Now, the first of these is fairly negligible as a source of lead poison
ing in this country. White lead is almost never handled dry by
the painter and red lead rarely. Out of 100 lead-poisoned painters
whose histories were obtained, only 2 mentioned having used dry
white or red lead. The danger is one to which paint foremen may
be exposed and to a certain extent painters of iron and steel if they
use red lead, but the number is relatively very small.
DRY SANDPAPERING OF LEAD-PAINTED SURFACES.

The second is a far more important source of lead poisoning.
Sommerfeld thinks that to do away with dry sandpapering would
be to remove the worst element in this industry, and the Austrian
governmental commission came to the same conclusion. Sand­
papering is used to smooth away the roughness of one coat of paint
before the next is applied. The more carelessly the first is applied
the greater necessity for sandpapering; but a certain amount of it
is necessary in all fine-grade work, especially interior work in ship
and house painting, where many coats must be applied. A well
painted interior usually has from two to four coats of white-lead
paint, all but the last of which is sandpapered. Sometimes this
last coat is a leadless enamel, but the ground coats are almost always
white lead.
In working on carriage wheels or bodies or on the interior of rail­
way cars, a painter may spend from one-sixth to one-fourth of his
working time sandpapering, and even while he is engaged in painting
92589°—13----- 3




34

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

he may have to breathe the dust raised by his fellow workmen.
His face is close to his work, and he can not possibly avoid breathing
in the dust unless he wears some kind of a respirator.
IMPORTANCE OF DUST AS A CAUSE OF LEAD POISONING.

It is very important to know how lead gains entrance to the human
body, because obviously it is not possible to understand the dangers
of the painter’s trade nor to outline measures for his protection
against lead poisoning unless we know whether the skin, the intes­
tinal tract, or the respiratory tract is the most important portal
of entry for this poison. Painters themselves, employers, and
physicians hold varying views on this question. Some think that
the skin is the most important and explain painter’s palsy (wrist
drop) on the ground that the lead in the paint has passed directly
through the skin to the muscles or nerves of the wrist. There are
also some scientific authorities on lead poisoning who believe that
lead may pass through the skin and cause poisoning, especially in
hot weather, though they do not hold this to be the most important
mode of poisoning. On the other hand, the majority of German
authorities regard skin absorption as of little practical importance
in industrial plumbism, and the English regulations governing the
lead trades ignore it and are directed entirely to measures for the
prevention of lead dust in the air and the prevention of poisoning
through the mouth.
As for the relative importance of these last two, the respiratory
tract and the digestive tract, there is some difference of opinion.
The most recent British work 1 on the subject describes experiments
tending to show that lead dust enters the bronchial tubes and lungs
and even penetrates the capillaries thus reaching the blood stream.
Most German authorities, however, hold that if any lead is absorbed
through the respiratory tract it must be small in amount, and that
while it is true that the breathing of lead dust causes poisoning, this
is not because the lead reaches the bronchial tubes, but because it is
caught in the mouth and throat, mixed with the saliva, and swallowed.
K. B. Lehmann 2 and his assistants recently traced the path followed
by inhaled dust and they state that the great bulk finds its way into the
stomach, not into the lungs. It first lodges on the nasal and pharyn­
geal mucous membrane and the dust-laden secretions are then swal­
lowed. Less than one-quarter at the most reaches the lungs. If
the dust is insoluble the stomach may be a good place for elimina­
tion, but soluble dusts are easily absorbed. Whichever theory is
accepted there is no question that poisoning takes place more rapidly
1 Legge, Thomas M., and Goadby, Kenneth W ., Lead Poisoning and Lead Absorption. London, 1912.
2 Lehmann, Saito & Majima, Archiv fiir Hygiene, Munchen imd Leipzig, 1912. Vol. 75, p. 160.




H YGIENE OF THE PAINTERS5 TRADE.

35

the dustier the occupation, and therefore those parts of the painter’s
trade that are accompanied by dust production are the most dan­
gerous.
M OIST RUBBING OF LEAD-PAINTED SURFACES.

Rubbing with pumice stone and water instead of sandpapering is
used much more in European countries than here. It is more
expensive because it is very much slower, and painters in this country
say that it is impracticable for the first coats as it would raise the
grain of the wood or, in metal painting, would cause rust. These
objections, however, would not apply to the use of oil instead of
water. It is entirely possible to do away with the dust of the rub­
bing process by keeping the sandpaper moistened with one of the
cheap mineral or hydrocarbon oils, choosing one, of course, that
has a low flash point and that is neither too slow nor too rapid a
drier. The sandpaper lasts as well with as without the oil and the
result upon the paint is fully as good. It is a method with which
many German painters are familiar and if it could be generally
introduced in this country a great step forward would have been
taken in improving the conditions in house painting and carriage
and railway coach painting and ship painting.
REMOVING OLD PAINT.

Old paint is sometimes prepared for repainting by sandpapering
when the surface is wood, and when the repair is only superficial.
Painted metal surfaces are generally chipped clean, sometimes by
means of a compressed air machine. This work is dangerous in the
same way as is sandpapering and the danger varies according to the
thickness of the paint that must be removed and the smallness of
the inclosure in which the work is done. The most conspicuous
example of dusty paint removing can be seen in shipyards, when
in repairing steel ships the painters may have to enter the closed
spaces between the outer shell of the ship and the inner shell and
chip off old red lead paint. Even when artificial ventilation is
used, the work is very dangerous.
Burning off old paint is safer than chipping, but it can not be
used on thin metal surfaces lest they warp. English and German
authorities speak sometimes of the danger of poisoning from the
fumes produced by burning off old lead paint, and include this process
among the causes of lead poisoning in the painter's trade, but it seems
improbable that lead fumes are produced in burning off old paintThe painter uses a small gasoline flame which is hot enough to make
the paint shrivel and curl up, but not hot enough to scorch it. The
question as to whether this degree of heat would be sufficient to
volatilize the lead was submitted to Prof. Julius Stieglitz of the




36

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

department of chemistry, University of Chicago, and he answers
as follows:
If the painter does not allow a flame to remain more than a
moment in contact with the lead paint, I should consider the chance
for the evaporation of lead to be extremely remote. The boiling
point of lead is at bright red heat, and of lead chloride, which is
its most volatile common salt, it is near that temperature (900° C.
[1652° F.]). I believe, therefore, that the danger is minimal under
those conditions. If, however, he allows the flame to play long
enough on the surface to produce a decided smoke, the smoke could
then carry mechanically lead particles with it.
It seems more probable that disagreeably smelling fumes from
the heated oil cause a feeling of malaise and headache in the painter
and that the chief risk of lead poisoning comes from the drying
and powdering of the burned off paint after it has fallen to the
floor. The Austrian regulations require that all such scraps be
gathered up before they have had time to dry.
DANGER FROM DUSTY CLOTHING, ETC.

When sandpapering is done the paint dust falls on the floor, or
on the drop cloth. The floor of a factory is oily and the dust becomes
incorporated into a paste, but when the floor is covered with a
drop cloth, as in house painting, there is risk of contaminating the
air with minute quantities of lead dust stirred up by the men as they
pass to and fro. Especially is this true at the beginning of work
when a dirty drop cloth is first spread out on the floor and the accu­
mulation of former sandpapering shaken into the air. Dusty overalls
are objectionable for the same reason.
DANGER FROM PAINT ON UNWASHED HANDS AND FACE.

Sandpapering paint and burning off old paint are not dangers to
which every painter is exposed, but every painter runs the risk of car­
rying lead into his mouth if he handles his food or his tobacco with
unwashed hands. The risk is greatest with greasy food, such as but­
tered bread and meat, as paint comes off easily on an oily surface.
This is a danger against which nobody but the man himself can wholly
guard, for even the most complete equipment of wash rooms, towels,
and soap are useless if the man himself is careless. On the other hand,
the most careful man may find it hard to avoid eating with paintsmeared hands when employed on a new building, where there may
be no provision at all for washing. The water is usually not turned
on in a new building till the work of painting is completed, and there
may be no water at all for the men to use either for drinking purposes
or to wash with except what is carried up in buckets— empty paint
buckets often—from a hydrant in the street. Of course cold water
without soap is practically useless for washing paint from the hands, and




H YGIENE OF THE PAIN TEES? TEADE.

37

few of the men carry soap and towels with them. Often the painter
will clean his hands as well as he can on a rag or a piece of paper and
then handle his food gingerly, trying to keep some paper between his
fingers and his sandwich, though he may quite forget the lead dust on
his mustache. Other men wash off the paint in the benzine or naph­
tha that is provided for the cleaning of paint brushes, but many paint­
ers are afraid to do this because they believe that benzine drives the
lead in through the pores of the skin. If the painter is careless enough
to hang his street clothes in the room where he is working, he will
carry the lead dust home with him, too.
The shortness of the noon hour is another thing that prevents the
men taking proper precautions. Thirty or forty minutes is not
enough to permit them to go home and, without a wash room or lunch
room within easy access, they can not get rid of their dirty overalls
and eat their meal with clean hands in a clean place. The only warm
and clean place available is likely to be the nearest saloon, and many
painters do go to saloons for the accommodations which they can not
get anywhere else, though others admit frankly that they go for drink
and sociability. The temptation to go there is increased by lack of
drinking water in the place where they are working, and the dryness
of the throat caused by turpentine and benzine vapor.
It is often claimed that alcoholism is very common among painters
and is responsible for lowering their resistance to the lead. Painters
themselves say that as a class they are rather heavy drinkers, yet
according to the vital statistics of one of the large life-insurance com­
panies,1which makes a specialty of industrial insurance, painters are a
little below the average in deaths from alcoholism. The records of
2,783 deaths among painters contain only 1.4 per cent attributable
to alcoholism, as against 1.9 per cent for plumbers and for masons,
and 1.5 per cent, the average for 103,434 occupied males. Oliver
says there is no evidence that British painters are more intemperate
as a class than other workmen.
If a house painter is questioned as to what measures would best pro­
tect him from the dangers of lead poisoning, he usually answers,
among other things, “ hot water and soap and time enough to use
them." Yet in their agreements with the master painters and con­
tractors the house painters have rarely insisted on a long lunch hour.
It would be easy enough for them to add on a half hour at the end of
the day and lengthen the noon hour. It is probably true that in
large cities house painters have to go too great a distance from home
to make it possible for them to get there and back again in the middle
of the day, and therefore a longer lunch period would not help much.
In factories the situation is much simpler. Here it would be easy to
i Prudential Insurance Company of America.
Demography. Washington, 1912, pp. 24 and 31.




Exhibit for International Congress on Hygiene and

38

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

insist upon clean lunch rooms and well-equipped wash rooms, but the
union does not hold sway in factories. As it is, some workshops are
very well equipped, but the majority that have been visited give a far
from sufficient provision, and some, especially the smaller ones, give
none at all.
On the whole it is probably fair to say that many painters are care­
less as to personal cleanliness and do not take nearly as many precau­
tions as they should, while others who are alive to the dangers have
no chance to take precautions, because there is no provision for clean­
liness where they are working.
HOUSE PAINTING.

Outside painting, house and sign painting, does not involve much
risk of lead poisoning from dust, only from contamination of food
and tobacco through paint-covered hands and mustache. Sand­
papering is a negligible risk in outdoor work. The essential thing is
to have some provision for the men to get rid of the paint on their
hands and faces before they eat their lunch.
Interior work is fraught with much more danger of plumbism
than outside work because of the exposure to dust from sandpaper­
ing. In interviews with Scandinavian and German painters, of
whom there are many working in this country, one is told that the
methods used in interior work in European countries are safer than
our methods; that less white lead is used on this class of work, zinc
oxide, or lithopone taking its place. Many Scandinavian painters
said they never had used white-lead paint for inside work till they
came to this country. Zinc oxide has not the covering power of
white lead, requiring as it does so much more linseed oil, and there­
fore four coats of zinc paint are needed to do the work of three coats
of lead paint. As labor is the great item of expense in house paint­
ing in this country, that extra coat makes zinc paint less desirable
than lead paint to the American contractor. Then, too, American
painters are not so familiar with zinc paint as with lead paint and
handle it with less skill. Even when lead paint is used, these men
who have had foreign training say that the work is not as bad in
Europe as here for the paint is put on more slowly and carefully and
does not need so much sandpapering. This again is a question of
saving expense by saving time.
Another thing that adds to the unhealthfulness of interior paint­
ing is the dampness and cold of new buildings during the spring and
fall months, when a great deal of the work on new construction is
done. Rheumatic pains are so frequent a trouble among painters
that the men regard them as a matter of course, but such pains are
among the symptoms of lead poisoning, and a damp and cold atmos­
phere lowers the resistance of the body to lead.




HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS9 TRADE.

39

SIGN PAINTING.

Sign painters are closely affiliated with house painters and in small
places they are members of the same “ mixed locals” with house
painters and carriage painters. There is, however, a separate trade
organization in larger cities, comprising between 2,000 and 3,000
members, about one-fourth of whom hold their membership in
Chicago.
Sign painting is a highly skilled branch of the trade, requiring a
four-year apprenticeship, which is sometimes extended to five years,
while the apprentice time for house painters is only three years. The
organized sign painters are English-speaking men, chiefly American
born or from northern Europe, though Bohemians and various
nationalities of Jews are beginning to enter the trade. There has
been a gradual change in the industry in the last 10 or 15 years,
leading to the substitution of shopwork for outside work. Not only
signs for business houses but advertising bulletin boards, what we
usually call “ sign boards,” are now prepared in the shop. The sepa­
rate boards, which are made of galvanized iron, no longer of wood,
are painted inside the shop and then fitted together outside. Lead
paint is chiefly used, but sandpapering is a very insignificant feature.
Indeed, sign painters do not think of mentioning this as a bad part
of the work because there is so little done. There is also much less
paint used by sign painters than by house painters, for so much of
their time is taken up in painstaking lettering and ornamentation.
Practically the only outside work among sign painters now is the
painting of advertisements on the sides and roofs of buildings. Here
the dark background is generally a leadless paint and only the lightcolored letters and designs are put in with lead paint.
Volatile substances are not as great an evil in sign painting as in
house painting, partly because there is not nearly so much paint used
in proportion to the number of men working, partly because paints
with a large proportion of turpentine, benzine, or naphtha are not
adapted to this work. There is a good deal of gilding with gold leaf
and a smaller amount of silvering with silver and aluminum leaf, but
the liquid suspensions are not used and there is very little bronzing*
The hours are the same as those for house painters except that the
sign painters belonging to the Chicago local take an hour at noon.
When on shopwork the men usually bring their lunches, but on out­
side work they depend on restaurants or saloons. Sign painters
almost always wear gloves while at work. There is no piecework in
the industry. It is looked upon as more healthful than house paint­
ing, though not as healthful as in former years, when it was almost
entirely an outdoor industry.




40

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

SHIP PAINTING.

Ship painting is fraught with more dangers to the health of the
painter than any other branch of the trade, according to the state­
ments of men who have been both ship painters and house painters.
This is partly because the work is of a high grade, requiring many
coats of pure lead paint and turpentine, with the usual accompaniment
of dry sandpapering. Then, too, much of the work is done in poorly
ventilated spaces, down in the hold, for instance, or inside small
cabins, or, even worse, in the so-called water bottoms, the spaces
between the inner and outer shells of the ship. Fumes of turpentine
and of hot coal tar and dust from sandpapered red or white lead
accumulate in these airless places and bring about a condition which
could hardly be paralleled in house painting.1 A description of one
of the four large shipyards on the Atlantic coast will serve to show
the risks attendant on this work. Conditions are fairly similar in
all four, though the one selected is considered one of the best.
There are between 125 and 150 painters employed here, about
25 or 30 of them colored, the others white. Most of the whites are
members of the Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators, this being an
open shop. The force varies very much, the men coming and going
all the time. At the time this inspection was made the foreman was
advertising in the papers of near-by cities for 50 painters. He said
quite frankly that the men could not stand the work as long as they
could house painting, especially because of the turpentine fumes.
He himself had had both lead and turpentine poisoning.
The outside painting of ships is not particularly trying, done as it
is in the open air where fumes and dust are blown away. Yet some risk
there must be in sandpapering the dry paint and in removing old paint
with a compressed air chipping apparatus, for the paint above the
water line is all red lead or white lead. Below the water line the hull
is covered first with an anticorrosive coat applied directly on the
steel and consisting of zinc oxide, metallic zinc, and Indian red. Over
this comes an antifouling paint, which, as it is poisonous, keeps the
ship bottom clear of barnacles. The poison is usually red oxide of
mercury on a zinc base.
Above the water line comes red lead and linseed oil, mixed fresh
every day. Two coats are applied, the first one sandpapered. Then
a “ rivet cement” which contains white lead is applied over the red
i In the United States Naval Medical Bulletin, 1912, Vol. VI, p. 161, Medical Inspector E. R. Stitt, U. S.
Navy, reports three cases of lead poisoning which occurred as the result of the inhalation of dust from old
red-lead paint. The men had been employed in chipping off this paint in the compartment of a torpedo
boat destroyer. All of them suffered profound nervous symptoms which masked the true condition so that
lead poisoning was not suspected until a blood examination showed basophilic changes in the red cells.
One of the three developed maniac depressive insanity, the second had epileptic form seizures, and the
third was apparently in the early stage of dementia praecox of the hebephrenic typo, later developing a
neuritis of both arms. All three recovered. Strangely enough, there were no other cases of plumbism
among the men, no typical case of colic. Stitt believes that encephalopathy is more likely to result from
dust inhalation than from other mode of poisoning.




H YGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS ’ TRADE.

41

lead and sandpapered and then two or more coats of pure white lead in
linseed oil with a little turpentine. Each coat is sandpapered before
the next is applied.
Much more unhealthful is the inside work, for here white lead paint
is sandpapered and there is in addition much more turpentine than
in the outside work. The last coats, often consisting of equal parts
of zinc oxide and white lead, are rich in turpentine; indeed the verylast coat may contain no oil at all, being thinned with turpentine alone.
The painters say that this part of the work is very trying, and in the
low^er parts of the ship the fumes from turpentine are sometimes so
strong as to overcome the men so that they have to be carried out and
laid on the deck to revive. Four men in this yard, who were recently
asked to hurry through the painting of a cabin which had no ventila­
tion because the fan was not working, developed symptoms of tur­
pentine poisoning before they had finished the day. The fumes were
so strong that they could work only 15 minutes without going up to
the fresh air. They suffered from pain in the lumbar region, stran­
gury and bloody urine.
Petroleum fumes are given off from the ‘ ‘ bituminous composition”
used in the water bottoms and tanks. This is a mixture of Trinidad
asphalt, rosin, and coal tar melted together and strained and applied
when hot. It is considered a good preservative for steel surfaces.
Dense white fumes come off from this mixture, which are extremely
irritating to the eyes and throat, and many men suffer also from head­
ache, nausea, and symptoms of intoxication. One man in this yard
became wildly delirious while at work with it, but recovered in the
fresh air. Other men notice the effect more when they reach the open
air, and reel and stagger like drunken men. In this shipyard, efforts
are made to relieve the situation when the men are applying this
bituminous paint in the water bottoms. A fan is placed in each of
the two small manholes leading down from the lowest deck to the
water bottoms, and air is driven in and sucked out again; but in addi­
tion to thi3 it is necessary to introduce a pipe with compressed air and
place it so that the blast drives away the fumes from before the
painter's face. Even with these attempted ameliorations the work
is refused by white painters and only Negroes can be got to do it.
The white men insist that they suffer from the fumes which escape
from the water bottoms and reach the parts of the ship where they
are working. It is said that a certain tolerance to the fumes is estab­
lished in some men; the Negro engaged in making the mixture has
done that sort of work for 10 years, and apparently he suffered no dis­
comfort when standing in thick white clouds which came from the
kettle and which were very irritating to the investigator standing 15
feet away.




42

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS*

Another feature of ship painting which makes it worse than house
painting is the fact that the piecework system is in force in shipyards.
This means that the men work as fast as they can and pay little or no
attention to keeping clean. Ship painters say that they need three
or four times as many clean pairs of overalls as they do when they are
house painting. Most of them wear gloves, which is an advantage.
The noon period is 40 minutes in this particular yard, but the washing
facilities are insufficient, only three basins for 75 men, and the basins
are at a long distance from parts of the yard. The result is that not
nearly all of the men wash their hands before eating.
WAGON AND CARRIAGE PAINTING.

This may be one of the safest branches of the painter’s trade or it
may be one of the most dangerous. As a rule the large factories
are safer than the small shops and the cheaper grades of work safer
than the more expensive grades. There is an unduly large propor­
tion of lead-poisoned painters in the smaller carriage and wagon
shops, where all the work is carried on in the same room, is done by
hand, and the dust from sandpapering contaminates the air, exposing
to lead dust even those workmen who are not engaged in dusty work.
Many of these painters are newly arrived foreigners, who may be
quite ignorant of the dangers of the work and of the way to protect
themselves, coming as they do from an agricultural life without any
experience in work of this sort. The sandpapering of wheels is the
most prolific source of lead poisoning in these shops.
A fairly high-priced carriage, or an automobile with a wooden body,
is first oiled; then, after thorough drying, receives a coat of white lead
paint and then white lead putty to fill all inequalities of the wood.
This is sandpapered. A coat of “ rough stuff” and white lead and
several coats of rough stuff alone follow, these last being rubbed
down, but the dust is quite free from lead. Color coats and color
varnish coats are smoothed with pumice and felt and finally with
pumice and water. Cheaper vehicles have fewer coats of rough stuff,
color, and varnish, but the most dangerous part of the work, the
sandpapering of lead putty and paint, is done on the cheaper work
also. Painting white milk carts with many coats of white lead is
one of the worst branches of this industry in Chicago.
Repairing and repainting old carriages and automobiles is not pro­
ductive of much lead dust. If the old paint is sandpapered it is
chiefly varnish dust that comes off; the rubbing does not go deep
enough to reach the lead paint. For thorough repairing the paint
is burned off. Metal parts are treated with paint removers.
When the work is done on a very large scale the gear, body, and
wheels of the wagons and carriages are dipped by machinery in great
tanks of paint, and painting by hand may be limited to the decora­
tions on the last coat. In one factory employing 300 painters all



H YG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS ’ TRADE.

48

but a few are engaged in dipping. This is the method in use in this
place: The gear of the wagon is dipped in a tank of leadless paint,
the primer, swung out over a drip board, and when almost dry
rubbed off rapidly with sandpaper. Then it is dipped in paint which
contains 50 per cent orange mineral or lead oxide, but this coat is not
sandpapered. In the same way the wheels and bodies of the wagons
are covered with a leadless primer and a coat of lead paint, either
the oxide or the chromate. The only danger comes from the satura­
tion of the clothes of the painter, who is smeared from top to toe
with paint. The men who dip the wheels in shallow tanks of paint
use their feet to make the wheel turn around in the paint, and even
their shoes are soaked through. It requires a great deal of effort,
repeated every night, to get rid of this paint, and as a matter of fact
the men do not get rid of it. A Hungarian physician who saw these
painters in his practice said that he could always tell in which depart­
ment a man was working by looking at the skin of his arms. This
physician treats many cases of chronic lead poisoning and a few
cases of acute lead poisoning from this factory. The painters who
do the dipping are foreigners and many of them have never painted
before, for the work requires very little skill. In proportion to the
number of men employed there is not much lead poisoning in this
factory, showing that when dust is eliminated a good deal of the
danger has been removed.1
In this same factory the finer work on carriages requires more
hand painting and sandpapering and less dipping. Carriage wheels
are given three coats of a practically pure white lead paint, and are
sandpapered twice, the dust being brushed off with a large soft brush.
As for the body of the carriages, these must have from 20 to 25 coats,
many of them of lead paint. Only those applied first are rubbed
with sandpaper, the later coats are rubbed down with pumice and
water. In this factory the different processes are carried on in sepa­
rate rooms, which is a great advantage.
AUTOMOBILE PAINTING.

There has been a great change in the method of painting auto­
mobiles in this country, since steel and aluminum have almost dis­
placed wood in the construction, and fortunately the change has
resulted in making the work of the painter less dangerous than
formerly.
In a large factory employing 515 painters, where low-priced auto­
mobiles are made, the following method is used: The steel bodies
and fenders are either dipped or sprayed with a priming coat which
contains lead, color coats and color varnishes that are free from lead.
i A careful inquiry was made in the city where the factory in question is situated and 23 physicians were
interviewed. W ith the exception of the Hungarian doctor quoted above, none of these physicians had seen
much lead poisoning from the factory, and records could be obtained of only 9 recent cases.




44

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOB STATISTICS.

Sandpapering, the worst feature of carriage painting, is not required
at all. The only rubbing down is done on the final coats with water
and pumice. Chassis receive three coats by hand, the first one being
lead and oil, the other two being color varnishes. A little dry sandpa­
pering is done on this first coat. Fenders are simply dipped. Wheels
are primed with linseed oil and white lead, but not sandpapered nor
puttied; they are then dipped by machinery in a coat of lead paint,
and then in color varnish. There is no sandpapering at all. Very
few skilled painters are required in this factory; most of the men are
ordinary day laborers.
In a second factory, where high-pried automobiles are made, the
methods differ somewhat. Here the bodies and fenders are of
aluminum. Three hundred and sixty painters are employed, a great
many of them doing unskilled work. The priming coat for the alu­
minum contains no lead, and though the putty used is 60 per cent white
lead it is not sandpapered; in fact there is practically no sandpapering
done on the aluminum. The “ rough-stuffi coats, consisting of
about 20 per cent white lead, are not rubbed, and the color and colorvarnish coats, also containing white lead, are rubbed with pumice
and water. Wheels are painted with a priming coat of oil and a little
white lead; then an earthen filler is rubbed in with the hand, but
this is free from lead. The color coats contain lead, but they are not
sandpapered. Of course many natural-wood wheels are also used with
varnish only, no paint.
Thus the most dangerous part of coach painting, the dry sand­
papering of lead paint and putty, has been practically eliminated
from automobile factories and hand work has been largely displaced
by dipping and spraying.
Both these factories are new, large, roomy, well ventilated, and
scrupulously clean. In one of them, heavy paper to catch the paint
is tacked down every day under the machines and is taken up at
night, leaving the floor clean. Detroit is the chief center of the auto­
mobile industry, and lead poisoning is a rarity there, both in the
hospitals and in the practice of outside physicians. The Detroit
local of the Brotherhood of Painters and Decorators has some 25 of
its members employed in automobile factories, and the secretary
stated that lead poisoning is not at all common in this branch of
painting.
This class of painting is done in either nonunion or open shops, and
the piecework system is general.
RAILWAY-CAR PAINTING.

A new method of painting railway cars has come in with the intro­
duction of steel construction. Lead-sulphate paint has been found
by one large company to be well adapted for covering steel and, as




H YG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS9 TRADE.

45

we have seen already, the adoption of this paint in place of the for­
mer lead-carbonate paint was followed by great improvement in the
health of the men. Wooden passenger coaches, refrigerator cars,
and street railway cars are still painted with lead carbonate, the pro­
portion of lead carbonate depending on the color that is used. Light
colors are richer in lead carbonate than are the darker colors. Freight
and baggage cars are painted with leadless paint.
Much of what has been said about automobile painting is true of this
class of work as well. These shops usually employ both union and
nonunion men. The work is in part skilled work, requiring expeI’ienced painters, in part it is very simple, such as can be done by day
laborers. Sandpapering of lead paint must be done on passenger
coaches and street cars, and in repair shops there is a great deal of
sandpapering and burning off of old lead paint, the dry fragments of
which are often allowed to accumulate on the floor of the shop until
they are ground to dust. Fortunately the work is usually carried on
in large, well-ventilated barns. The worst part is painting and sand­
papering interiors, toilet rooms, or ceilings of passenger coaches and
the inside of railway mail cars.
AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS, STRUCTURAL IRON, ETC.

The painting of agricultural implements is hardly a lead trade any
longer. In the two plants visited, one employing 75 and the other
165 men1in the paint departments, very little if any lead paint is used.
Seven men out of the 75 in the first factory use it in stenciling and
striping. The painting consists in dipping by machinery into tanks
of leadless paint.
Structural iron also is painted more and more with leadless paint.
When red lead is demanded, it is usually applied in the shop by men
who are not painters by trade and who do this work only occasionally.
If it must be applied after the iron is in place, it is done by house
painters, a small number of whom are willing to undertake this rather
hazardous work on buildings and bridges. The statement is made
by bridge and tank contractors that three-fourths of the paint used
on their work is carbon or graphite or coal-tar paint. When red
lead is used, the ready prepared variety is chosen unless specifica­
tions call for dry red lead in linseed oil.
FURNITURE, PICTURE FRAMES, MOLDINGS, ETC.

This branch of factory painting is of very little importance, for
leadless paints are used almost entirely. One large paint house
stated that it had given up that branch of the trade as the demand
for lead paint was too little to be worth while troubling about.




1 This company employs 840 painters in all its plants.

46

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

LEAD POISONING AMONG PAINTERS IN EUROPE.

It is harder to control lead poisoning in the painting trade than in
any other, and no country has been able to bring the trade under
supervision so as to reduce the amount of industrial poisoning as has
been done by means of sanitary regulations in such industries as white
lead, smelting, paint grinding, or pottery glazing.
In Germany, according to Fleck,1 other lead trades have shown
great improvement in recent years in the incidence of plumbism, but
it is rare to find in any place a diminution in the number of leadpoisoned painters. Fleck says that plumbism is really the occupa­
tional disease par excellence of painters, and he believes that a complaint
of sickness on the part of a painter should at once arouse suspicion of
lead poisoning. Among the common causes of death among painters
are acute and chronic nephritis, apoplexy, meningitis, suppuration^
and septicaemia from wounds. In Berlin in 1903 the general death
rate, leaving out children under 1 year, was 11.61 per 1,000 inhabit­
ants, while for painters over 14 years it was 14. “ Without exag­
geration it may be stated that every member of this industry, if he
does not die early from some other disease, is almost sure to be
affected some time with saturnism. Indeed, it has been stated that
five years is the longest possible period between the beginning of lead
absorption and the outbreak of the intoxication.”
Fleck gives the morbidity rate from plumbism per 100 painters in
Berlin in 1905 as 7.9, the mortality rate per 100 German painters
in 1905 as 1.3. Moreover, Sommerfeld,2 in writing on lead poisoning
in painters, says: “ In studying the sickness statistics of painters we
must remember that the effects of lead are often given as an inde­
pendent disease; for example, gastric catarrh, nervous troubles, and
rheumatism. Of course nobody can say how many of these were
influenced by the lead, but experts agree that the number of leadpoisoning cases is higher than figures show.”
The statistics of lead poisoning among painters in Great Britain are
incomplete because house painting does not come under the factory
and workshop act, which requires physicians to report cases of plum­
bism to the Home Office. Many physicians, however, do voluntarily
report their cases, and the number thus sent in, though not complete,
is larger than that reported from any other one industry. In 1909,
167 cases were reported among painters, 7 of them fatal. Legge and
Goadby estimate 9,418 cases in this industry in a year, but in the
absence of information as to the number of painters in Great Britain,
it is not possible to say how large a morbidity rate this is. Painters
would, of course, be at the head of the list of industrial plumbism in
any country because numerically they stand at the head of the lead
trades.




1 Weyl, Handbuch der Arbeiterkrankheiten, Jena, 1908, p. 513.
2 Handbuch der Gewerbekrankheiten, Berlin, 1898.

47

HYGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS’ TRADE.

The industries in Great Britain which show a diminution of plumb­
ism in the last 10 years are, as in Germany, those which are sub­
ject to strict regulation, as, for instance, the making of white lead,
where the cases numbered 358 in 1900 and only 32 in 1909. In the
painting industry, on the contrary, no improvement is noticeable.
Coach painting, ship painting, and painting in other industries were
responsible for 152 cases in 1900, 144 cases in 1903, 140 in 1906, and
167 in 1909.
There is also a larger proportion of severe cases and a smaller
proportion of mild'cases among the painters who suffer from plum­
bism than among the cases reported from the other lead industries,
as the following shows:
PER CENT OF CASES OF PLUMBISM OF EACH SPECIFIED DESCRIPTION IN GREAT
B R IT A IN .

Industry.

Coach painting..................................................
Ship painting....................................................
Painting in other industries..........................
Average for other lead industries.................

Severe.

26.0
35.6
31.4
28.2

Moderate.

27.6
19.5
23.9
24.7

Mild.

43.2
41.4
43.0
44.7

First
attack.
59.8
69.0
58.8
67.4

Second
attack.
18.7
15.7
20.5
15.5

Third
attack.
16.8
9.2
17.5
13.4

The statistics on lead poisoning in the painter’s trade in France
have been the subject of bitter controversy between those who
advocate the prohibition of white lead paint and the master painters.
It is difficult to glean impartial statements from the mass of evidence
on both sides. In the Senate report of 1900 the answers of 6,750
master painters and painters are given to questions propounded by
the Government. Of these, 134 reported that they had had lead
poisoning.
An Austrian governmental report of 1907 gives the results of an
official inquiry into the use of lead paint in the painting trade. The
report is a very thorough description of the different branches of the
painter’s trade in that country, the measures for protecting the
workmen, and the health of the latter as shown by sickness insurance
statistics.1
A great deal of red lead is used for structural ironwork in Austria
and for ship painting, though in the latter industry zinc white is
beginning to replace white lead. For railway cars also the tendency
is to use lithopone and zinc white but wagons and carriages are still
painted with white lead except in one establishment where, contrary
to usual custom, even the outside coats consist of zinc white. Agri­
cultural implements are painted with red lead and white lead.
The seasonal variation in the incidence of plumbism among painters
has been interestingly worked out in the Austrian publication quoted,
and the curve of lead poisoning follows in general the curve of em­
i Austria. Arbeitsstatistisches amt. Bleivergiftungen in huttenmannischen und gewerblichen Betrie*
ben. Ursachen und Bekampfung 5. Teil. Wien, 1910.




48

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

ployment, only as one would expect it lags somewhat behind. The
highest points in the curve of employment are reached in August,
September and October, while the greatest amount of lead poisoning
comes in October, November, and December.
The investigators distinguish between the two kinds of work,
inside and outside painting, for they find that by far the greatest
amount of lead poisoning is caused in the former work and this they
attribute to dry rubbing and the resulting contamination of the air
with poisonous dust. The report states‘that there is great lack of
proper sanitary supervision of this industry in Austria and while the
difficulties in the way of providing facilities for cleanliness are much
greater when the work is done outside of factories, still these diffi­
culties are not insuperable. For outside work it would be quite
possible to provide for wash basins, wardrobe, and lunch room in the
building put up by the contractor to shelter materials and blue prints.
For inside work, a room could always be set apart as wardrobe and
wash room,.anothei as lunch room.
As we shall see later, the findings of this report resulted in the pas­
sage of a law which among other things forbids dry sandpapering of
lead paint and restricts very largely the use of lead paint in interior
work.
LEAD POISONING AMONG PAINTERS IN THE UNITED STATES.

It is unnecessary to remind the reader that the statements made
under this heading are only tentative and that it is absolutely impos­
sible to make even an approximate estimate of the amount of lead
poisoning that exists among painters in this country.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION.

The United States census for 1910 is not yet available, but in any
case it would be of little value because it gives no information as to
morbidity rates, only mortality, and for many reasons mortality sta­
tistics are of little value in a study of lead poisoning. Rarely does
a painter die of uncomplicated and typical lead poisoning. The
immediate cause of death is usually some chronic lesion which has
been set up by the slow absorption of lead, but the physician in mak­
ing out his death certificate gives the disease w^hich is, strictly speaking,
a secondary cause of death as the principal cause, and the underlying
chronic plumbism is either omitted or mentioned as a contributory
cause.
The Prudential Insurance Co. has published mortality statistics
which have the great advantage of dealing with painters as a separate
class, but they also are mortality statistics and the number of deaths
from lead poisoning is low, 42 out of 2,783. The figures correspond
fairly well with those given by Fleck for German painters in 1905,




H YGIENE OF THE PAINTEES? TRADE.

49

although the classification of causes of death is not the same in all
cases. In Fleck’s records the mortality from lead poisoning is 1.3
per cent; from nervous diseases, 7.8 per cent; from heart, kidney and
liver troubles, 20.8 per cent; while the Prudential figures under the
same headings are 1.5, 10.7, and 35.9 per cent, respectively. The
large rate for respiratory diseases among the German painters, 41.6
per cent, as compared with the Prudential, 26.3 per cent, makes up
for this difference.
As to morbidity records, they are very scanty. The report of the
Illinois Commission on Occupational Diseases for 1911 gives 578 cases
of industrial lead poisoning occurring between 1908 and 1910, inclusive.
One hundred and fifty-seven of these, or 27 per cent, were painters.
The report states that these cases were gained mostly through the
records of the union and that it was very difficult to get at those
among nonunion men, who make up so much of the force in railway,
wagon, and carriage works.
In the course of an investigation of the white and red lead indus­
tries, 300 cases of lead poisoning were gathered from hospital records
in four cities and classified according to occupation. Ninety-two of
them were painters, not quite one-third. These cities, Chicago, Phila­
delphia, Camden, and Cincinnati, all contain white-lead factories, so
that the proportion of painters is probably lower on that account.
In New York, painters seem to make up the great majority of victims
of industrial plumbism. The Report on Occupational Diseases, by
E. E. Pratt, published by the New York Factory Investigating Com­
mission in 1912, gives the records of 109 cases of industrial lead
poisoning, no less than 42 of them painters. In Bulletin No. 95., Bureau
of Labor, John B. Andrews quotes the record of one New York hospital
in which 59 cases had been treated, 28 of whom, or a little less than
one-halJ, were painters. Among the 60 fatal cases of industrial
poisoning studied by Dr. Andrews, 40, or two-thirds, had been painters,
showing, apparently, that the form of lead poisoning from which
painters suffer is above the average in severity, for the proportion of
painters among the fatal cases in New York is higher than the pro­
portion among hospital cases. This accords with statistics in other
countries and must not be taken to mean that the painters’ trade is
the most dangerous of the lead trades, but rather that men remain
longer in it. Painters are skilled and well-paid workmen and cling
to their occupation as long as possible.
An unusual and interesting statistical report has been recently
made and published by a local district council of the Brotherhood
of Painters, Decorators and Paper Hangers, the first instance of
a study of industrial hygiene made by the industry itself. The
92589°— 13------ 4




50

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

pamphlet, which was compiled by J A. Runnberg, statistician
L
for Painters* District Council No. 14, and published in Chicago in
1911, deals with three subjects: (1) Nationality and conjugal con­
dition; (2) unemployment; (3) industrial accidents and diseases.
The information on which this report is based was gathered from
1,388 letters in answer to 7,195 questionnaires. The average age of
these 1,388 men reporting was 41 years and 3 months. As the ques­
tions related to nationality, unemployment, etc., as well as to dis­
eases, it is not probable that the questions were answered chiefly by
men who had been ill and neglected by those who had not. Indeed,
Mr. Runnberg’s report shows that the answers came largely from four
locals, those containing the greatest percentage of Scandinavian and
German members. It may be, however, that the number reporting
illness is somewhat above what the average would be for the whole
local. The particular illness reported is supposed to be given accord­
ing to the diagnosis of the physician who treated the case.
Number questioned from 4 local unions............................................................. 5,031
Number reporting................................................................................................ 1,009
Number reporting illness:
Lead poisoning.............................. ...............................................................
185
Kidney trouble.............................................................................................
72
Stomach trouble...........................................................................................
24
Rheumatism................................................................................................
77

This would indicate that one out of every five or six painters (house
painters chiefly) has had lead poisoning at one time if he is not suffer­
ing at present from chronic poisoning.
It is interesting to compare these figures with the result of a similar
inquiry made among Austrian painters by the Austrian commission
referred to above. Of 208 painters who were questioned, 50, or almost
1 in 4, gave a history of having been leaded at least once, most of
them repeatedly.
No one can say how many of the 77 cases of rheumatism and the
24 cases of “ stomach trouble” were to be attributed to the use of
lead paint; some of the cases of kidney trouble were probably to be
traced to the effect of turpentine, but a certain proportion would
probably have to be explained as due to the chronic vascular
changes— arterio sclerosis—characteristic of slow lead poisoning.
It is not claimed that these figures are more than suggestive, and
since there was no absolutely accurate information to be obtained as
to the frequency of lead poisoning in this industry, it was decided to
select a typical group of painters and have a thorough medical exam­
ination made of each one. In this way a cross section of the indus­
try could be presented and it would be possible to say how large a
proportion of working, not disabled, painters belonging to that




51

H YG IEKE OF THE PAINTERS* T E A M ,

particular class showed evidences of industrial plumbism. The
Austrian publication already quoted gives a few details of the investi­
gation made among painters. Of the 208 men selected 112 had the
lead line, though in 41 it was only a trace; 50 gave a history of lead
poisoning, and 23 of these said that their first attack had come on in
consequence of the dry sandpapering of lead paint.
Our investigation was carried out by Dr. E. E. Hayhurst, formerly
of the Illinois Occupational Disease Commission, now of Rush Medical
College, Chicago.
EXAMINATION OF 100 PAINTERS FOR EVIDENCES OF LEAD POISONING
BY EMERY ft. HAYHURST, M. D., SPRAGUE MEMORIAL INSTITUTE AND
RUSH MEDICAL COLLEGE, CHICAGO.

These examinations were made between February 22 and April 4,
1913. The source of material was from the membership of the Scan­
dinavian Local Union 194, Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and
Paper Hangers of America, whose officials, particularly Mr. John A.
Kuniiberg, statistician and trustee, and Mr. G. M. Hansen, secretary,
arranged to have the men come at stated times for examination.
These workmen constitute the highest type of house painters to be
found in Chicago as regards intelligence, industry and thrift, morality,
personal hygiene, and interest in personal and community health.
A large per cent were of foreign extraction and training, but accord­
ing to their own statements had used very little lead paint until
coming to America.
Age.
Ago group.

Number.

20 to 80 years......................................................................................
31 to 40 years......................................................................................
41 to 50 years......................................................................................
51 to 60 years......................................................................................
Over 60 years......................................................................................

21
28
33
17
3

Branch o f trade.

General painters, many doing some paper hanging...........................
Interior painters and deeorators, some paper hanging.......................
Exterior painters, exclusively............................................................
Carriage painters, exclusively............................................................
Paper hangers, doing some painting..................................................

63
32
2
1
2

Nationality.

Scandinavian................................................... ..................................
German...............................................................................................
Hebrew...............................................................................................
Other foreign born............................................. .
......................
American............................................................................................




51
9
9
11
20

52

BU LLETIN OF TH E BUBEAU OF L A B 03 STATISTICS.

Time at trade.
Two men had begun the trade at the ages of 30 and 31, but with
these exceptions all had begun as youths.
Years at the trade.

Number.

Under 5 years.....................................................................................
6 to 10 years........................................................................................
11 to 20 years......................................................................................
21 to 30 years......................................................................................
31 to 40 years......................................................................................
41 to 50 years......................................................................................
54 years...............................................................................................

1
17
32
28
17
4
1

Where trade ivas learned.
United States.........................................................................................48
Abroad...................................................................................................41
Not ascertained.................................................................................. ... 11
Time lost during winter of 1912-13 because of lack of worh.
Time lost.

Under 1 month...................................................................................
Not over 2 months..............................................................................
Not over 3 months..............................................................................
Not over 4 months..............................................................................
Not over 5 months..............................................................................
Over 5 months....................................................................................
No time lost........................................................................................
Not ascertained..................................................................................

12
16
10
19
2
3
21
17

It should be stated that these examinations were made at the end
of the winter slack season, consequently all the men examined should
have been as free from immediate effects of lead poisoning as possible.

.

Marital history

Number.

Single (always)...................................................................................
Married...............................................................................................
Married, but wives never pregnant....................................................

24
76
11

Father’s occupation that of painting in 15 cases.
Significant family history.
Tuberculosis: Eight positive, 4 questionable.
Insanity and epilepsy: Five positive, 2 questionable, out of 70
inquiries.
Cancer: Nine positive out of 75 inquiries.
Significant personal history

.

No previous diseases other than venereal and poisoning from
lead, 53.
Operations for appendicitis, 2.




H YGIENE OF THE PAINTERS9 TRADE.

53

Wood alcohol poisoning, 3; recovery complete in 1 case; partial
in 2.
Forty-seven gave a history of acute infectious diseases, 11 of mala­
ria, 3 of tuberculosis, 1 of nephritis, and 1 of jaundice.
The inquiry as to the use of intoxicants was answered with apparent
frankness; 34 said they drank only occasionally; 42 regularly, but
moderately; 14 drank to excess; and 10 were total abstainers. As
would be expected from the nationality of the majority, beer was
the usual beverage. Twenty-two never drank any whisky, and the
14 excessive drinkers preferred beer. There was no reason to suspect
that any of them were given to the use of habit-forming drugs.
In taking their histories the examiner encouraged the men to say
what they considered to be the most unhealthful features of their
work. Practically all complained of being made sick temporarily
by the fumes from “ hard oiling” (varnish with benzine and turpen­
tine). Of the 100, 99 complained of the lead-paint dust from sand­
papering, the one exception being a man who worked at paper hanging
chiefly; 70 of them complained of benzine when used in close quar­
ters; 64 of turpentine. None of them used wood alcohol to any
particular extent, except the 3 victims of wood alcohol blindness who
had been working in brewery vats.
The examination included a careful inquiry into past history of
sickness and present symptoms of ill health, followed by a physical
examination, to which was added a skin test for the detection of
remnants of lead paint, a test to determine the strength of the man’s
wrist and fingers, and a test for the determination of blood pressure.
Finally, urine and blood were examined in the usual way, and in
selected cases the urine was subjected to an electrolytic test for the
detection of lead, and a special test was applied to the blood to
determine the resistance of the red blood corpuscles to haemolysis
(Liebermann’s procedure). In judging of the results of these exam­
inations it is necessary to bear in mind that the men were all ablebodied painters, employed at the time, or waiting and anxious to get
employment.
History of former attacks of lead poisoning.

Twenty-seven men gave a history which clearly pointed to lead
poisoning, that is, they told of one or more attacks of abdominal pain,
constipation, severe headache with or without vomiting, lasting for
several days and not accompanied by fever. Eight gave a history of
the above symptoms only; the other 19 had had neuromuscular dis­
turbances as well, such as rheumatic pains, lumbago, sciatica, anaes­
thesia, or paraesthesia, especially in the arms; muscular cramps,
trembling and twitching of the muscles. Two had had paralysis—
1 of the arms, 1 of the legs. Four had had an attack of loss of con-




54

B ULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOB STATISTICS.

scionsness and delirium, one of whom attributed it to the wood
alcohol with which he was working at the time. In only one case
was the delirium accompanied by fever, and in none, except the
wood-alcohol case, was there any apparent cause for the attack.
Ten of the 27 men had been told by physicians that they were suffer­
ing from lead poisoning; 3 more were not sure whether the diagnosis
had ever been made.
Besides these 27, there was an equal number of men whose past
histories were suggestive of lead poisoning but not as clearly so.
Present complaints.

Seventy men described symptoms more or less pronounced pointing
to some disturbance of health, the principal ones being as follows:
Loss of strength..................................................................................
Loss of weight....................................................................................
* Nervousness ” ...................................................................................
‘

16
12
33

DIGESTIVE.

Nausea................................................................................................
Loss of appetite..................................................................................
Foul taste......................................................................................... .
Vomiting............................................................................................
Constipation.......................................................................................
Diarrhea............................................................................................
Intestinal pain...................................................................................
Distention..........................................................................................

16
24
33
10
50
19
43
35

(SENSORIAL.

Headache...........................................................................................
Vertigo................................................................................................
Fainting.............................................................................................
Insomnia............................................................................................
Depression..........................................................................................
Attacks of mental confusion...............................................................
Memory failing...................................................................................

50
36
6
22
8
8
22

NE UROMUSCUL A R .

Pains in the joints..............................................................................
1 Rheumatism ” ..................................................................................
‘
Muscular cramps................................................................................
Tremors..............................................................................................
Anaesthesia or parsesthesia, especially of arms.................................

24
35
24
17
26

OCULAR.

“ Spots,” double vision, or failing sight.............................................
Itching eyelids...................................................................................

30
14

AURAL.

Ringing—imperfect hearing...............................................................

40

URINARY.

Incontinence—nocturnal frequency...................................................

38

CIRCULATORY.

Palpitation—nosebleed......................................................................




27

55

HYGIENE OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

Fifteen of the men were evidently suffering from neurasthenia.
So far as possible, specific causes of any of the above symptoms,
other than lead poisoning, meant that such symptoms were not
included in the above table, i. e., (1) in cases of rupture; visceralgia,
constipation, and distention were omitted; (2) neuralgias due to
teeth were omitted; (3) joint pains and rheumatism due to acute
inflammatory rheumatism past or present were omitted; (4) defective
vision due simply to refractive errors was omitted as far as possible;
(5) aural disturbances due to otitis media were omitted as far as
possible; (6) urinary disturbances were in nearly all cases due to
nocturnal frequency, not to venereal diseases, and rarely to inconti­
nence; most cases were in those of advancing years; only one due to
diabetes.
Physical examination.

There were abnormal physical findings, including more than simply
a lead line, in 52 cases, the most significant of wiiich are the following:
General emaciation............................................................................
Local emaciation (arms).........(only 25 examined in this respect)..
Prematurely aged...............................................................................
Lead line (10 not pronounced)...........................................................
Pyorrhea (17 very pronounced).........................................................
Tremor of lips or tongue....................................................................
Tremor of hands.................................................................................
Nystagmus..........................................................................................
Unequal pupils................................................................... ...............
Arterio sclerosis (5 others suspicious).................................................
Incoordination (arms)........................................................................
Wrist reflexes (2 absent, 2 much increased).......................................
Pupil reflexes (absent)......................................................................
Heart..................................................................................................
Lungs (7 emphysema; 1 acute bronchitis; no active tubercular lesions,
although 14 were suspicious)....................... .................................
Enlarged liver....................................................................................
Gaseous distention.............................................................................
Gouty toe joint...................................................................................
Edema of ankles (6 with varicose veins)...........................................
Knee jerks (3 absent, 13 exaggerated)...............................................

4
5
8
19
51
27
19
4
4
6
17
4
2
21
20
6
7
8
7
16

Special tests.

1. S o d iu m S u l p h i d e S k i n A p p l i c a t i o n .—Merely as a matter of
interest, a sodium sulphide solution (5 per cent) was applied to the
hand, arm, and chest of 90 of these men to see if invisible particles of
lead paint were still clinging to the skin in spite of thorough washing.
The sodium sulphide turns lead paint black in a few seconds, so that
it serves to demonstrate even tiny particles deep down in the skin.
The test showed the presence of lead paint on the hands and wrist
of 42 of the 62 men who had been working in lead paint within




56

BULLETIN OF THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

a week or 10 days, although in all these cases their hands and arms;
had been washed repeatedly. The most striking case was a man who
had not worked for fully two weeks and had washed his hands at least
once a day during that time, yet the black streaks appeared on his
skin when the sodium sulphide was applied. The test served as a
very impressive lesson to the men in the necessity for thorough wash­
ing and bathing.
2.
U r i n a r y A n a l y s i s .1—The analysis was made from a fresh speci­
men in each case, and in addition most of the men, in response to a
special request, brought a pint bottle of urine, which, being added to
the fresh specimen, gave a sufficient quantity for the determination
of lead by the electrolytic process. For this last test 29 cases were
selected in which the suspicion of lead poisoning was most strong.
Albumin and casts.............................................................................
Sugar..................................................................................................
Indican:
Excessive.....................................................................................
Above normal..............................................................................
Lead present (out of 29 analyses).......................................................

7
1
8
19
2

3. B l o o d .—The stained smears showed a slight leucocytosis in 5
cases, no blood diseases, no significant granulation. The Liebermann test showed 2 cases of increase of the resistance quotient of the
red blood corpuscles in 21 tests carried out on selected cases. The
hemoglobin never fell below 90 per cent (Tallqvist) and below 95 per
cent in only 3 cases.
4. S t r e n g t h o f h a n d a n d w r i s t .—This was determined by a
dynamometer, which had been tested on 35 men who were not painters,
to determine the average reading, which proved to be a trifle over 150.
Tested on 95 of the 100 painters, the reading showed that the right
hand was below normal in 41 of the 95 cases, the left hand below nor­
mal in 20 cases. Men who had had injury to the wrist were not in­
cluded in the test. The strength of the wrist extensors was determined
also by the dynamometer. The man was seated in an armchair,
with his hand dropping down over the end of the arm of the chair.
The dynamometer was then placed on the top of the hand and the
man asked to raise his hand up against the physician’s resistance
on the dynamometer. The normal average of readings by this pro­
cedure had been found to be considerably over 30. Sixteen out of 95
painters had a decided loss of strength in the extensor of the right
hand, and in 20 there was loss in the left hand.
1 1 would note that no attempts were made to ascertain the frequency of chronic interstitial nephritis
from the urinafy analyses, -because only a single specimen or so was available and it was considered thafi
blood-pressure determinations and the history of nocturnal frequency were more specific in determining
this condition. E . R . Hay hurst.




57

HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS* TRADE.

5.
B l o o d p r e s s u r e .—This was determined with a mercury
manometer (Mercer type), using the stethoscope applied to the cubital
fossa of the right arm.
Systolic pressure was taken toward the end of the examination in
each case, so as to eliminate the psychical factors as much as possible
and also when possible after the patient had seen the same examina­
tion done on a previous case. The cases ranged between 98 and 204
mm. Hg. as follows:
Cases.

Below 100 mm. Hg............................................................................
100 and below 110 mm. Hg................................................................
110 and below 120 mm. Hg................................................................
120 and below 130 mm. Hg. (5 were under 30 years)........................
130 and below 140 mm. Hg. (4 under 40 years).................................
140 and below 150 mm. Hg. (2 under 50 years).................................
150 and below 160 mm. Hg. (5 under 60 years).................................
160 and over 160 mm. Hg. (3 under 60 years)...................................

3
9
30
17
17
12
6
6

Total...............................................................................................

100

From this table it can be seen that there were 41 cases in which the
systolic pressure was 130 or over, which, according to Blum,1if persist­
ent, implies contracted kidneys. However, according to the stricter
rule (Johnston-Lavis), that the systolic pressure should not be over
the number of years of age plus 100 for adults, there are in this
table 19 cases with abnormally high pressure.
Diastolic pressure varied from 62 to 112, with 15 cases over 90;
14 of these high diastolic pressures occurring in cases with abnormally
high systolic pressures.
Summary

Symptoms of acute plumbism were not found in any case. Indica­
tions of chronic plumbism were found in at least 59 cases. It is not
easy to summarize these records, but they fall fairly well into the
following groups:
G r o u p 1.—Includes 19 men who gave a clear history of previous
lead poisoning (12) or a history suggestive of lead poisoning (7), were
suffering at the time from symptoms of chronic plumbism, and who
in addition had positive physical findings and gave positive results
to one or more of the tests described above, not including, of course,
the sodium sulphide test.
G r o u p 2.—Includes 16 men with a clear history (7) or a suggestive
history (9) of lead poisoning and who complained of symptoms of
chronic lead poisoning and were found by physical examination to
have signs of this disease.
1Blum believes that a continuously high blood pressure indicates that the person in question should
be forbidden to continue working in a lead trade. (Deutsche medizinsche Woehenschrift, Lepzig und
Berlin, 1912, Bd. 38, No. 14.)




58

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

G r o u p 3 .—Seven men with a clear history (3) or a suggestive his­
tory (4), complaining of typical symptoms and responding posi­
tively to one or more tests.
G r o u p 4.—Twelve men who had no history of former attacks, but
who were at the time suffering from typical symptoms and who had
positive physical findings and responded to one or more tests.
G r o u p 5.—Five men, 2 with a clear, and 3 with a suggestive history
of lead poisoning, not complaining of ill health but with physical signs
pointing to chronic plumbism and with positive response to one or
more tests.
The following nine cases might be looked upon as suspicious. Five
were men whose histories were suggestive and who complained of
more or less typical symptoms, but physical findings and tests were
negative. Two others had a history of former attacks and had
marked weakness in the wrists. One man had a lead line and a
suggestive history and one had a lead line and a weak wrist.
HISTORIES OF 100 LEAD-POISONED PAINTERS.

From the record of hospitals and dispensaries the histories were
gathered of 100 painters suffering from acute or chronic lead poisoning
for which they had sought medical care. An analysis of these
histories shows clearly the fact that painting, being a skilled and
well-paid trade, is not lightly abandoned because of sickness. The
average length of employment of these 100 painters was 15.77 years,
while the average for 186 sanitary ware enamelers had been found
in a previous study1 to be only 6 years. Twelve per cent of the
painters and 20 per cent of the enamelers had been employed less
than a year at the time of their sickness. The following table gives
the length of employment of these painters:
Le33 than 1 year.................................................................................
1 to 5 years.........................................................................................
5 to 10 years......................................................................................
10 to 15 years......................................................................................
15 to 20 years......................................................................................
20 to 30 years......................................................................................
30 to 40 years......................................................................................
Over 40 years......................................................................................

12
12
9
13
19
17
14
4

Total......................................................................................... 100
Lenqth of exposure before first attach of sickness.

1 to 6 months......................................................................................
6 to 12 months....................................................................................
1 to 5 years.........................................................................................
5 to 10 years........................................................................................
10 to 15 years.............................................. ......................................
15 to 20 years......................................................................................
20 to 30 years......................................................................................
30 to 40 years......................................................................................
Over 40 years......................................................................................

15
4
8
8
8
7
3
2
1

Total.........................................................................................

48




i Bulletin of United States Bureau of Labor No. 104, p. 62.

59

HYGIEHU OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

The development of lead poisoning among painters is not as rapid
as it is among workmen using lead who are engaged in dustier voca­
tions, where the period of exposure before the onset of symptoms
may be only a few days. Among 120 cases of lead poisoning in the
white-lead industry 1 74 per cent developed after less than one year’s
exposure, while the table just given shows that in only 19 per cent of
the painters was this true.
A closer examination of these records shows that certain lands of
painting are responsible for more rapid poisoning than others. Of
the 27 who sickened after less than five year’s employment, 16 were
railway car or carriage painters; 4 only were house painters. Another
element that enters in here, however, is that the car or carriage
painters are much more likely to be unmarried foreigners working
for a low wage and therefore more likely to seek hospital and dis­
pensary care.
Specific statements as to whether the attack suffered from was or
was not the first attack of lead poisoning was given by 74 of these 100
painters. Fifty had suffered more than once.
1 attack...............................................................................................
2 attacks.............................................................................................
3 attacks.............................................................................................
4 attacks.............................................................................................
5 attacks.............................................................................................
6 attacks.............................................................................................
‘4
Many ” or 4 several ” .......................................................................
4

24
23
5
2
2
2
16

Total.........................................................................................

74

It is evident that men vary greatly in their resistance to lead poison­
ing. Twelve had their first attack within three months of beginning
to work, but on the other hand there were 6 who had worked more
than 20 years before they were aware that they were poisoned, before
their first acute attack of plumbism. It is well to mention the fact
that all of the 19 painters who sickened in less than a year’s time had
been working inside and using sandpaper.
The following is a brief summary showing the character of the
disease from which these painters suffered:
Acute gastric type without complications........................................
Gastric with complications.................................................................
No gastric symptoms:
Nervous only...............................................................................
Arthralgia or myalgia 2................................................................
Myalgia and palsy.......................................................................
Arteriosclerosis...........................................................................
Arteriosclerosis with palsy.........................................................

33
49
7
4
3
3
1

Total....................................................................................... 100
1 Bulletin cl United States Bureau o! Labor, No. 95, p. 224.
2 It was not always possible to tell from the history sheet whether the pains were in the joints or in
the muscles.




60

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OP LABOR STATISTICS.

The complications were as follows:
Palsy (5 slight, 14 involving more than one limb)............................
Encephalopathy (transient acute, 6; mental deterioration, 3).........
Eye disturbances................................................................................
Arteriosclerosis with chronic nephritis.............................................
Arthralgia or myalgia 1......................................................................

39
9
11
8
24

As palsy is usually one of the later symptoms of lead poisoning,
one would expect that the proportion of palsied men would be greater
among painters than among men who sicken more quickly and
remain a shorter time in their employment. When we compare the
proportion of cases of palsy found among 177 lead-poisoned enamelers,
whose records were studied, with the figures given above, we find
that the enamelers had only 15.9 per cent, while for the painters it
was 39 per cent. The painters had also 9 per cent of encephalopathy,
as against 4 per cent among enamelers.
Twenty-seven of the 39 palsied men told how long they had been
employed before they became paralyzed. It was less than 10 years
in 7 cases, between 10 and 20 years in 5, and 20 years or over in 15.
The three that had the shortest exposure were two railway-coach
painters and one ship painter, both of them occupations which involve
dry sandpapering.
The occupations in which the 100 men were engaged are not very
important, as they would be different in different cities. Chicago is,
however, fairly typical in the proportion of men employed in the vari­
ous kinds of painting.
The occupations of the 100 painters were as follows:
House painting...................................................................................
Carriage and automobile painting......................................................
Railway car and street car XDainting...................................................
Iron painting......................................................................................
Sign painting......................................................................................
Ship painting.....................................................................................

56
24
12
4
3
1

REGULATIONS GOVERNING USE OF LEAD PAINTS IN EUROPEAN
COUNTRIES.

During the past 20 years the Governments of France, Germany,
Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria have made more or less exhaustive
inquiries into the dangers to which painters are exposed through the
use of lead paint, inquiries which have resulted in recommendations
for legislation to guard against these dangers.
Radical measures looking toward the suppression of white-lead
paint have been adopted in France, but they do not come into force
until January 1, 1915. The French law prohibiting the manufacture
or importation of white lead and prohibiting the use of white-iead
T
r
1 It was not always possible to tell from the history sheet whether the pains were in the joints or in
the muscles.




HYGIENE OF THE PAINTERS9 TRADE.

61

paint was strongly backed by the medical profession in France, and
physicians in Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and
Austria have also urged the prohibition of the use of white-lead paint.
The commercial interests involved have as strenuously opposed such
measures, although they have expressed themselves as not opposed
to sanitary regulations looldng toward the elimination of preventable
causes of lead poisoning.
In Februar}^, 1911, the British Parliament authorized the Home
Secretary to appoint two departmental committees to investigate (a)
the danger attendant on the use of paints containing lead to the
health of the persons engaged in painting buildings, and (b) the
danger from the use of lead compounds to the health of the persons
engaged in painting, enameling, and varnishing coaches and car­
riages. The reports of these committees have not yet been made
public.
Following is given a brief r6sum6 of the essential features of the
laws and regulations in regard to the use of white-lead paints in
leading European countries. Great Britain is omitted from this
summary, inasmuch as it has not yet brought house painting under
legislative control.
LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN REGARD TO THE USE OF WHITE-LEAD
PAINTS IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES.
G e r m a n y .—Hand mixing of white lead is forbidden. In case of other colors use
restricted to small quantities by male workers over 18 years. The rubbing of fresh
paint or old paint with sandpaper or pumice may be done only after previous dampen­
ing. Workmen who come in contact with lead colors or lead mixtures must be
instructed as to the dangers to their health and furnished with leaflet containing pro­
tective regulations. Employers must see that workmen coming in contact with lead
provide themselves with caps and work clothes and that they are used during work.
Facilities for washing, soap and towels, and brushes for the cleaning of hands and
nails must be provided. Lunch rooms also must be provided. Medical examina­
tion at least once every six months is required.
F r a n c e .—White lead must be used only in the form of paste in the workshops of
house painters. Products containing lead as their basis must not be used with the
hands. Scraping off or rubbing by means of pumice stone of white-lead paint in a
dry state is prohibited. Where white-lead paint is removed by the wet method,
employers must place at the disposal of workmen overalls, and see that they are worn.
The overalls must be kept in good order and frequently washed. All necessary
facilities for washing must be provided at the place where the work is carried on.
A decree containing the regulations must be posted in the place where new hands
are taken on and where workmen are paid. Medical certificates are required, which
must be renewed every three months. Lunch rooms must be provided. The law of
July 20, 1909, to come into effect January 1, 1915, absolutely prohibits the use of
white-lead paint for exterior or interior painting.
B e l g i u m .—Belgium requires that the workmen avoid contact with the white lead
with their hands, apparently not forbidding hand mixing or mixing by handwork.
The posting of notices in establishments where dangerous or unhealthy conditions
exist is a general requirement of the Belgium factory law. Dry rubbing of old paint
is forbidden. Medical examination every three months is required. Wash and
lunch rooms are required.




62

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LAB0B STATISTICS.

A u s t r i a . — All hand mixing of white lead is prohibited. In case of other colors the
hand mixing is regulated. Dry rubbing of freeh paint or of old paint is prohibited.
The use of white lead in inside work is forbidden except in certain cases. Paints con­
taining white lead must be labeled so as to show that fact. Workmen must be
instructed as to the dangers of their employment. Medical examination is required
every three months if over 20 painters are employed, and under the same conditions
wash and lunch rooms must be provided.

Austria’s prohibition of white-lead paint in interior use carries
with it several exceptions: On old white-lead paint, when nothing
else would adhere well, white-lead paint may be used. It may also
be used on walls which will be exposed to the action of steam or
vapors and in cases where the use of this paint would be required to
keep work from going outside of Austria. All old lead paint which
has been rubbed or scraped off by the moist process prescribed must
be gathered up from the floor before it has had time to dry.
In Germany, France, and Austria the law is stricter for painting
in factories than for house painting. For the former there are specific
regulations much like those in the other lead trades. Working clothes
must be provided, alcohol and tobacco are forbidden, there must be
medical inspection every six months, and the lavatory facilities must
include soap, towels, brushes, an adequate number of basins, and
warm water. Germany has, however, provided more carefully for
the protection of house painters than has Austria. In Germany, if
the work is house painting, the contractor is required to provide
overalls and caps for the men and must have these articles washed
and kept in order. He must provide a place sheltered from the
cold, where the men may leave their street clothes and where they
must keep and eat their lunches, and this place must have soap,
towels, warm water, washbasins, and nailbrushes. No other coun­
try has yet made such detailed provision for the care of house painters.
It is also made the duty of the employer in Germany to suspend
from work any painter whom he knows to be suffering from lead
poisoning.
The laws in these countries insist also that proper precautions
shall be taken by the men themselves. Painters are forbidden to
leave the premises where they are employed without first thoroughly
washing their hands and faces. No food, no beverages, no tobacco^
may be carried into the workroom, and the men are not allowed to
take their lunches in any room except the one provided for that
purpose.
POSSIBLE LEGISLATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF PAINTERS IN
THE UNITED STATES.

In the United States there has been, curiously enough, little discus­
sion of the question of lead poisoning among painters till very
recently. After the publication of the Illinois report referred to




H YG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS* TRADE.

63

above, a law was passed for the protection of workers with lead and
its salts, but this law covers painters only when they are employed in
factories and workshops, not in house or sign painting. No other
State has any special law governing the lead trades,1 and even the
Illinois law is inadequate.
Throughout this report, whether dealing with American or Euro­
pean conditions, we have found again and again that the greatest
danger in the use of lead paints comes from the dust caused by dry
rubbing. Germany, Austria, France, and Switzerland have for­
bidden dry rubbing for all kinds of work; Belgium has forbidden the
rubbing of old paint. In this country many objections are urged
against the use of pumice and water on the ground of injury to the
surface, increased expense, and so on, but these objections do not
apply to the use of oil with sandpaper in order to keep down the dust.
It does not seem unreasonable to insist that American painters should
be protected against the danger of dry rubbing and that if paint
must be sandpapered, the use of some oil to moisten and catch the
dust should be required.
When it comes to providing properly for the sanitary needs of the
painter in both factory painting and house painting, there seems no
reason why the American employer or contractor should not be re­
quired to do as much as the German or French or Austrian. The
Illinois law already provides for the protection of factory painters, and
the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paper Hangers has
recently insisted that the same protection be extended to house
painters. During a recent strike in April, 1913, the following de­
mands were made by the brotherhood:
No workman or apprentice shall be required to use any poisonous
material or material injurious to the health, such as wood alcohol,
varnish remover, oxalic acid, or the sanding of lead, etc., unless they
are protected with respirators, gloves, etc., same to be furnished by
the employer; nor shall they be required to use any dirty or insan­
itary waste, rags, or drop cloths. There shall be an allowance of
five minutes for wash time in each four hours’ work, and where lead
or other poisonous material is used, the employer shall furnish hot
water, soap, and towels to the workmen. The officers and members
of the organization shall enforce this clause.
This is said to be the first time the union has effectively dealt with
health questions, and in all probability the inquiry quoted above in
regard to occupational diseases among the members of the brother­
hood in, Chicago had much to do in calling the attention of the trade
to the importance of such measures of disease prevention.
European laws emphasize the need of instructing painters in the
dangers of their occupation, and giving them simple directions as to
1A law for the prevention of occupational diseases with special reference to lead poisoning was approved
In Ohio May 6,1913, but it applies only to the manufacture of white lead, red lead, litharge, sugar of lead,
arsenate of lead, load chromate, lead sulphate, and lead nitrate or fiuosilicate.




64

B ULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

how to avoid these dangers. In this country the need for such
instruction is most apparent in factory and shop work where untrained
men are employed, many of them foreigners with little knowledge of
English. This is provided for in the Illinois law.
However, it is not of much use to warn men against the dangers of
certain substances in paint unless they know whether or not the paint
they are handling contains these substances. Therefore, the paintlabeling laws which have been advocated for the protection of the
buyer are desirable as a protection for the user of the paint as well.
When it comes to the question of prohibiting the use of white lead
paint for inside work there is a difference of opinion. At the 1910
meeting of the International Congress of Industrial Hygiene in
Brussels, the question of prohibiting white lead paint altogether was
discussed, and the majority of the speakers regarded this as radical
and premature, but saw no valid reason for continuing to allow its
use in interior work. As we have seen, Austria has prohibited it.
The step was taken after a careful investigation had been made into
the comparative dangers of inside work and outside work with lead
paint. It was found that the cases of lead poisoning among inside
painters were out of all proportion to the amount of lead used, for
less than one-quarter of the white and red lead paint used in Austria
was on inside work. Only 2,750 q. were required for inside work as
against 9,500 q. for outside work.1 In Vienna in one year's time 163
cases occurred in connection with the use of 1,600 q. of lead colors on
the inside and on the outside where 9,500 q. were used, only 80 cases.
With the exception of France, no other country has thus far
followed Austria’s example, although the Federal Council of Switzer­
land in 1908 advised the adoption of similar restriction in the use of
white-lead paints, and the Cantons of Basel and Zurich have followed
this advice.
The question was put to 100 intelligent union painters, and all but
one of them declared themselves in favor of the substitution of zinc
white for lead paint in inside work, because of the danger attending
the use of lead paint. E. F. Ladd, dean of the department of chem­
istry and pharmacy of North Dakota Agricultural College, a wellknown authority on paint, when consulted on this point answered as
follows:
I would limit the use of white-lead paint, not permitting its use
in general for interior painting, although I do not know that I would
say that white lead should be excluded from all classes of interior
painting. I would not at this time exclude the use of white lead from
exterior painting. Restrictions in the use of white lead should not
1 In 1904 and 1905, the paints used in inside work in Austria were 23 per cent white lead, 62 per cent zinc
oxide, and 15 per cent lithopone. The same publication gives the quantities of these paints used in Germany
in 1903, quoting from a report of the Diisseldorf Chamber of Commerce. For inside work, white lead 38
per cent, zinc white 35 per cent, lithopone 15 per cent.




HYG IEN E OF TH E PAINTERS9 TRADE.

65

be confined to that alone, but should apply to all classes of lead paint
that are possessed of toxic properties. I would, unless information
that I do not now possess, can be furnished, prohibit the dry rubbing
down of white lead, but permit the use of pumice and water or sand­
paper and some drying oil. I would restrict the use of dry white
lead to be handled by painters; it is not necessary, for the work can
be done better in the factory. I would have every paint of this kind
labeled to show its true composition in such a way that everyone can
understand its essential features. I would also have an educational
campaign carried on warning painters of some of the dangers of care­
lessness and telling them of remedial methods to prevent lead poi­
soning.
SUMMARY.

Paint consists essentially of pigment ground in a liquid vehicle, and
either the pigment or the vehicle may possess poisonous properties.
The most important liquids used as ingredients of paint or of paint
removers are linseed oil, turpentine, petroleum, benzine or naphtha,
and benzole. Wood alcohol and fusel-oil products are also sometimes
used. These are all volatile poisons except linseed oil.
The dangerous pigments are the different salts of lead, the basic
carbonate, red lead and orange mineral, the chromate, and the basic
sulphate.
Experiments with the basic carbonate and the basic sulphate show
that the former is much more soluble in human gastric juice than the
latter and causes more rapid and severe poisoning in animals.
The danger in the use of leadless paints and of paint removers
comes from the liquid vehicle and is increased by lack of proper
ventilation. If quickly drying, flat finish paints are used in close,
ill-ventilated rooms, serious poisoning from the fumes of coal-tar
products and of turpentine may result.
The danger from the use of lead paints comes from paint dust in
the air and from paint smeared on the hands which may be carried
into the mouth with food or tobacco.
Paint dust is caused chiefly by rubbing old or new paint with dry
sandpaper. This process is universally recognized as the most dan­
gerous part of the painters’ trade. It could be completely done away
with by the use of cheap mineral oil to wet the sandpaper and catch
the dust.
The protection of the painter against poisoning through unwashed
hands can be effected only by providing adequate washing facilities
and a clean lunchroom wherever work with lead paint is carried on.
Interior house painting, ship painting, and certain kinds of carriage
painting, including railway cars, are the most dangerous branches of
the trade in the United States.
92589°— 13----- 5




66

BULLETIN OF TH E BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

The painters’ trade is regarded in all countries as the most
important of the lead industries. Six European countries have car­
ried on investigations in the use of lead paint in industry, and five
have recommended legislation more or less comprehensive to lessen
the dangers to which painters are exposed. In the United States,
Illinois alone has passed such a law, and it does not cover any painting
except that done in workshops.
A study of hospital reports from four cities shows that one-fourth
of the hospital cases of lead poisoning in these cities were painters.
In New York City the proportion is even greater. Forty of 60
fatal cases of lead poisoning in New York were painters.
Among 1,009 painters in Chicago who sent answers to a list of
questions, 185 gave a history of lead poisoning, 72 of kidney trouble,
77 of rheumatism, and 24 of stomach trouble.
One hundred able-bodied painters presented themselves for physical
examination by a specialist in occupational diseases, who found that
59 of them showed evidence of chronic lead poisoning.
An analysis was made of the hospital or dispensary histories of 100
lead-poisoned painters. The proportion of complicated and of
chronic cases was large, over half had had more than one attack, 39
had had palsy, and 9 had had brain symptoms.
This study of the painters’ trade in the United States shows that
there are many elements of danger, most of them avoidable, and it
shows that if protective legislation is to be passed it should be
directed toward the prevention of poisonous fumes and dust, and the
provision of facilities for bodily cleanliness.
Such legislation should (1) forbid the use in unventilated rooms of
paints or paint removers containing volatile poisons; (2) forbid dry
sandpapering or dry chipping off of lead paint; (3) insist that the
employer provide a proper place for his workmen to hang their street
clothes and keep and eat their lunch, and a washroom with a sufficient
number of basins, warm water, soap, towels, and brushes; (4) require
the labeling of all paint offered for sale in such a way that the painter
can be apprised of the danger involved in its use; (5) in the case of
work done in factories, cards of instruction for the workmen should
be posted, and if necessary these should be written in one or more
foreign languages.
The total prohibition of lead paint for use in interior work would
do more than anything else to improve conditions in the painting
trade.




INDEX.
Page.
Acetone, used in paints, physiological effects of...............................................................................................
13
Agricultural implements, structural iron, etc., painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in.................
45
Alcohol (wood or methyl) used in paints, physiological effects o f...............................................................
13
Amyl acetate, used in paints, physiological effects of.....................................................................................
13
Austria, Belgium, France, and Germany, regulations in, for the use of white lead paints.........................60-62
Automobile painting, risks of lead poisoning involved m ..............................................................................43,44
Belgium, France, Germany, and Austria, regulations in, for the use of white lead paints.................... 60-62
Benzine, petroleum spirits, and naphtha, used in paints, physiological effects of................................... 11,12
Benzole, used in paints, physiological effects of............................................................................................... 12,13
Carbolic and oxalic acids, and potash, used in paints, physiological effects of..........................................
14
Carbonate of lead. (See Pigments.)
Carbon disulphide, used in paints, physiological effects of............................................................................
14
Carriage and wagon painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in............................................................... 42,43
Feeding experiments on cats and dogs as to toxicity of lead sulphate and lead carbonate...................... 25-29
Flat-finish paints, analysis of samples of............................................................................................................ 16,17
Flat-finish paints, physiological effects of.......................................................................................................... 14-16
France, Germany, Belgium, and Austria, regulations in, for the use of white lead paints.....................60-62
Furniture, picture frames, moldings, etc., painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in........................
45
Germany, France ? Belgium, and Austria, regulations in, for the use of white lead paints.....................60-62
House painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in........................................................................................
38
Hygiene of painter’s trade:
Introduction......................................................................................................................................................
5-7
Summary........................................................................................................................................................... 65,66
Laws and regulations in regard to the use of white lead paints in European countries.......................... 61,62
Lead compounds or salts used in paints. (See Pigments.)
Lead poisoning, dangers of, in painters’ trade:
Agricultural implements, structural iron, etc., painting.........................................................................
45
Automobile painting.......................................................................................................................................43,44
Dry sandpapering of lead-painted surfaces...................................... ......................................................... 33,34
Dust, importance of, as a cause of lead poisoning..................................................................................... 34-36
Furniture, picture frames, moldings, etc., painting.................................................................................
45
House painting............................................................................................................................................... ..
38
Moist rubbing of lead-painted surfaces........................................................................................................
35
Paint on unwashed hands and face..............................................................................................................36-38
Painters’ trade in European countries........................................................................................................ 46-48
Painters’ trade in the United States............................................................................................................48-60
Railway-car painting....................................................................................................................................... 44,45
Removing old paint.........................................................................................................................................35,36
Ship painting.................................................................................................................................................... 40-42
Sign painting..........................................................................................................., ........................................
39
Wood and carriage painting.......................................................................................................................... 42,43
Lead poisoning, examination of 100 painters for evidences of................................................... 1.................. 51-58
Lead poisoning, histories of 100 painters suffering from.................................................................................. 58-60
Lead poisoning. (See also Pigments.)
Legislation, possible, for the protection of painters in the United States..................................................62-65
Linseed oil, used in paints, physiological effects of.......................................................................................... 9,10
Methods of using and removing paint, dangers involved in.......................................................................... 32-38
Dry sandpapering of lead-painted surfaces.................................................................................................33,34
Dust, importance of, as a cause of lead poisoning.....................................................................................34^36
Moist rubbing of lead-painted surfaces........................................................................................................
35
Paint on unwashed hands and face, dangers from....................................................................................36-38
Removing old paint.........................................................................................................................................35,36
Milk, retarding effect of, on solubilitv of lead salts in human gastric juice..................................................... 29-32
Moldings, etc., picture frames, and furniture painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in.....................
45
Naphtha, benzme, and petroleum spirits, used in paints, physiological effects of................................... 11,12
Oxalic and carbolic acias, and potash, used in paints, physiological effects of.........................................
14
Paints:
Acetone used in, physiological effects of.....................................................................................................
13
Alcohol (wood or methyl) used in, phvsiologieal effects o f....................................................................
13
13
Amyl acetate used in, physiological ejects of............................................................................................
Benzole used in, physiological effects of...................................................................................................... 12,13
Carbon disulphiae used in, physiological effects of...................................................................................
14
Composition of..................................................................................................................................................
7,8
Corrosive poisons used in, physiological effects of....................................................................................
14
Flat-finish, analysis of samples of................................................................................................................. 16,17
Flat-finish or “ dull-coat” .............................................................................................................................. 14-17
Flat-finish, physiological effects o f .............................................................................................................. 14-16
Formulas for paints used on inside work and on outside work.............................................................
8
Legislation, possible, for the protection of painters in the United States............................................ 62-65
Linseed oil used in, physiological effects of................................................................................................ 9,10
Methods of using ana removing, dangers of lead poisoning in............................................................... 32-38
Petroleum spirits, benzine, and naphtha used in, physiological effects o f.......................................... 11,12
Physiological effects produced by liquid constituents o f........................................................................ 9,14
Regulations governing use of lead paints in European countries..........................................................60-62
Turpentine used in, physiological effects of............................................................................................. 10,11




6
7

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INDEX.

Page.
Petroleum spirits, benzine, and naphtha, used in paints, physiological effects o f................................... 11,12
Picture frames, furniture, moldings, etc., painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in........................
45
Pigments, or lead salts, used in paints................................................................................................................ 18-32
Carbonate and sulphate of lead, factory using, lead poisoning in....................................................... 21,22
Carbonate and sulphate of lead, relative toxicity of, in dogs and cats.............................. 22,23,25-29,32
Carbonate and sulphate of lead, retarding effect of milk on solubility of, in human gastric juice.. 29-32
Carbonate and sulphate of lead, solubility of, in human gastric juice............................................ 22-25,31
Poisonousness, relative, of the different lead salts.....................................................................................18-22
Sulphate of lead, factories making, lead poisoning in...............................................................................19-21
Prevention of lead poisoning by a railway car company................................................................................21,22
Railway-car painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in............................................................................. 44,45
Red lead. (See Pigments.)
Regulations in European countries governing use of lead paints................................................................. 60-62
Sandpapering, dry, of lead-painted surfaces, dangers of................................................................................. 33,34
Ship painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in............................................................................................40-42
Sign painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in............................................................................................
39
Structural iron, etc., painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in..............................................................
45
Sulphate of lead. (See Pigments.)
Turpentine, used in paints, physiological effects of......................................................................................... 10,11
Wagon and carriage painting, risks of lead poisoning involved in............................................................... 42,43
W
ood alcohol, methyl alcohol, used in paints, physiological effects of........................................................
13