Mill-Reek, a dreadful disease, caused by the poisonous fumes of melted lead, which affect not only those who are employed in the smelting or preparing of that metal, but likewise all who reside near the mines whence it is dug, or conti-guousry to the furnaces, etc. where it is worked.
On the first attack of this disease, the patient feels a weight and uneasiness in the region of the stomach, and a slight degree of colic in the bowels : the pulse is low; the appetite impaired; the legs become feeble, and the whole body is debilitated. Sometimes these symptoms abate in consequence of a slight diarrhoea ; though, if the latter continue for some time, it is always attended with danger.
At first, however, the patient is not prevented from following his usual occupations; but, if the disorder progressively increase, and he neglect to apply for relief, the next symptoms will be, obstinate •costiveness, violent pain in the in-testines ; a troublesome giddiness, insensibility, and delirium. The extremities become convulsed ; the -pulse intermits; and, at length, the highest degree of palsy, or apoplexy, closes the distressing scene.
As the mi!l-reek is of a similar nature and origin with the Devon-shire-colic, of which we have already treated under the article Lead, we refer the reader to p. 75 of the present volume, where he will find a short account of its most successful treatment.—We cannot, however, conclude this article, without recommending the following precautions (from the first vol. of the Edinburgh Essays and Observa-tions, physical and literary, etc. 8vo. 1754) to the attentive consideration of the humane. It is a duty incumbent on all those persons who are in any manner connected with the manufacture of lead, or who reside in the vicinity of lead-mines, to spread and inculcate the means of rescuing many industrious members of society from a most painful death ; or, if a person be attacked by this terrible disease, to contribute their share towards preserving them from feeling its extensive horrors.
1. No labourer should be suffered to repair to his work, fasting ; his food ought to be fat and oily, and it would be very beneficial, if he were to drink a glass of sweet oil, either pure, or mixed with a little brandy, every morning.
3. No spirituous liquors should be allowed, or at least, be very sparingly used, especially while the labourer is at work, or immediately after it.
4. No workman in a state of perspiration must expose himself to the cold air ; but he should retire to his home, as speedily as possible , and, after having changed his clothes, cool himself gradually.
5. Immediately after the labourer returns from his work, he ought to take some nourishing aliment, which should principally consist of fat broths, or similar liquids.
Lastly, as often as their employment will permit, they ought to visit an open country, where they may breathe an untainted air, and find provisions free from the noxious fumes of lead. Particular care must, however, be taken not to venture upon long journies ; because such persons will be more fatigued, and reduced, by travelling one day, than by labouring two days in the lead-mines.