There has been considerable discussion of late in regard to chemical poisoning, partly because a great many new workers have been added to the photographic ranks in the last year or two, and partly because some photographers imagine that the scores of new developing agents that have made their appearance since the beginning of the war are really new in composition. As a matter of fact, they are practically all of them salts of paramidophenol, methyl - para-midophenol or diamidophenol, so there is really nothing new either in developers or in chemical poisoning. The following explanation and suggestions may be of value where chemical poison has been or is likely to be encountered.

Usually the trouble commences with itching and local reddening of the skin followed by swelling and the formation of water blisters, especially in the region of the nails and between the fingers, and in severe cases these blisters combine to form one large one, encircling the entire hand. At this stage with careful attention the blisters subside and in two weeks the skin begins to peel and the patient is well, though if the blisters burst, raw sores are left which heal with difficulty and there is danger from bacterial infection.

In all cases it is advisable to consult a physician as the condition of the health has an important bearing on infections of this nature. No specific elimi-nant appears to have been discovered, the usual "cures" in the form of ointments serving merely to allay the inflammation. An application of zinc ointment or the formula containing resorcin and ichthyol often recommended and bandaging of the parts affected is usually sufficient. After the skin has peeled, the parts affected are always supersensitive to the poison so that special precautions must be taken in future. There is no cure known which will prevent future attacks if the person is again exposed to the action of the chemicals which caused the poisoning.

There is some doubt among members of the medical profession as to whether the poison does enter the blood stream. In most cases the trouble is confined to the under layers of the skin on the hands, the chemical acting as a local irritant. There are cases on record, however, of persons who have handled quantities of these dry chemicals, have breathed the chemical dust, and the poison has broken out in different parts of the body. This is strong evidence that the entire blood stream may become poisoned. In ordinary dark-room procedure the poison undoubtedly enters the skin by the way of cracks formed by chapping or roughening of the skin by the action of the alkali in the developer. If the developer or other chemical solution is then allowed to dry on the hands, the salts crystallize within the pores and cause the skin to crack further, exposing the under layers and rendering possible the access of the chemicals to the blood stream.

Eastman Portrait Film Negative, Artura Print By W. O. Breckon Pittsburgh, Pa.

Eastman Portrait Film Negative, Artura Print By W. O. Breckon Pittsburgh, Pa.

Almost every photographic developer will cause trouble with the right person, and in this respect the personal element plays an important part. In the factories where photographic developers are manufactured, new comers appear to be particularly susceptible and employees are transferred to some other occupation if poisoning symptoms appear. Persons with very thin skins are particularly liable to be affected. Coal tar developers take first place as regards severity of action, though cases of poisoning have been known where the person handled pyro exclusively. On the other hand, some persons susceptible to one developer are immune to another.

The mode of access of the poison being known, preventive methods at once suggest themselves and may be tabulated:

(a) Never let the developing or other chemical solution dry on the skin, so that if solutions are being handled intermittently it is better to keep the hands thoroughly wet rather than dry them after only imperfectly washing them.

(b) When washing the hands, wash for two or three minutes in hot water until all soapy feeling disappears, otherwise the chemicals left within the pores will crystallize and cause cracking of the skin. The reason why most poisoning is caused by developers is because it is difficult to remove alkali from the skin by washing, especially if it is at all cracked. By bathing the hands in a weak acid solution, say 1% acetic acid, or by immersing them in the acid fixing bath before washing, the alkali is neutralized and the salt thus formed is more readily removed by washing.

(c) The use of a thin coat of vaseline on the hands will assist in preventing access of the solution within the pores of the skin, while rubber gloves, if used at an early stage, are an almost certain preventive. If vaseline is used it should be rubbed into the pores of the skin, after which the surface greasiness should be wiped off, otherwise the work will surely suffer from finger marks.

The usefulness of the above simple precautions is shown by the fact that during the instruction of over 5000 students at the U.S.A. School of Aerial Photography, Rochester, N. Y., only a single case of chemical poisoning was reported.

Eastman Portrait Film Negative, Artura Print By W. O. Breckon Pittsburgh, Pa.

Eastman Portrait Film Negative, Artura Print By W. O. Breckon Pittsburgh, Pa.