Phossy Jaw

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A typical case of phosphorus poisoningPhossy Jaw – Phosphorus was first used in the manufacture of matches in 1833 at Vienna.  Shortly after its introduction, and ever since, cases of necrosis of the bones of the upper and lower jaws have occurred among the workpeople employed in match factories.  The condition was first described by Lorimer, who, between the years 1839 and [1845], saw 9 cases in Vienna, but immediately after cases were also reported in Numbers, Strassburg, Berlin, Lyons, Paris, Manchester, and London as having occurred among the workers in match factories. 

Improvements in ventilation and in manufacturing machinery have greatly diminished its frequency, but it has continued to be not uncommon, and is widely recognised as a risk incurred by those who work with phosphorus.  The clinical symptoms have been fully described by Lorimer, Heyfelder, von Bibra, and Geist, Harrison, Roussel, and others.  In addition to their more systematic descriptions many isolated cases have been put on record by different writers, and all agree substantially in their main features.

Excerpt from the British Medical Journal – 1899

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