Match-Making in Britain from 1827 to 1910: The Dangers of White Phosphorus in Lucifer Match Production

Elise Lehmann

Abstract


Throughout the nineteenth century the British match-making industry used white phosphorus in the production of lucifer matches, despite the knowledge taht the chemical could cause a deadly disease known as phosphorus necrosis. Until the 1890s, due to cover-ups made by match-making companies, the British government was unaware of the scale of phosphorus necrosis cases and had been led to believe that the chemical was being used safely. However, even after journalists exposed the truth, the British government and match-making companies were still unwilling to ban white phosphorus because of the economic and social consequences of shutting down lucifer match production. It was not until a chemical alternative was found that both the match-making industry and the British government were prepared to ban the use of white phosphorus. 


Keywords


Phosphorus necrosis; phosphorus; match-making; matchgirls; Bryant & May

Full Text:

PDF


PID: http://hdl.handle.net/10515/sy5r20sd4

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2017 USURJ: University of Saskatchewan Undergraduate Research Journal

For more information, please visit usask.ca/urj. ISSN 2292-1141