Deadly Décor: A Short History of Arsenic Poisoning in the Nineteenth Century
At the beginning of the 19th century, wallpapers containing Scheele’s green pigments were a commonplace finding in the houses of Britain. Despite apprehensions and documented cases concerning their safety dating back as far as this, it was not until later in the century when leading physicians began to support poisoning theories and a potential mechanism was found, that the general public took notice. Despite the increasing body of support for campaigns to ban the production of such papers, parliament ignored the public health scandal choosing instead to favour the huge profit arsenic mining brought by it. Regardless of the lack of legislation, wallpapers containing arsenic pigments eventually fell out of popularity as the public voted with their feet and chose to purchase “arsenic-free” papers instead.
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