I was excited to find out yet another link between phossy jaw and UCL – Chemical Technology (now Chemical Engineering) Professor Watson Smith recommended harmless red phosphorus matches. Poisonous white or yellow phosphorus caused phosphorus necrosis/phossy jaw, whereas the red type did not and was introduced by the Salvation Army in 1891 in England (see my previous blog entry “Pioneers in the match industry”).
Prof Smith was a Fellow of the Institute of Chemistry (now Royal Society of Chemistry, RSC) and a Fellow of the Chemical Society. He joined UCL in about 1888. Since then, he became interested in occupational health including phossy jaw. In 1893, he delivered an address on “Diseases Incident to Workpeople in Chemical and other Industries.” at the University College Chemical and Physical Society, and in 1906, he wrote a book on “The Chemistry of Hat Manufacturing”.
To search for more information and start another journey of “Who do you think you are?” for Prof Smith. RSC, I am coming!
- Lights in Darkest England. Copyright ©2012 The Salvation Army United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland. http://www1.salvationarmy.org.uk/uki/www_uki_ihc.nsf/vw-sublinks/1CF95AB6625F4E278025704B005457CC?openDocument.
- Anon. 1893. “Public Health and Poor-Law Medical Services.” British Medical Journal 1 (1677) (February 18): 386–387.
- Smith, Watson. 1906. The Chemistry of Hat Manufacturing: Lectures Delivered Before the Hat Manufacturers’ Association. Scott, Greenwood.