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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/683

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LITTRÉ, DUMAS, PASTEUR, AND TAINE.

some time ago recommended the projection of water, in the form of rain, to bring the dust to the ground. Fecula and talc have been used as inoffensive substitutes, in iron-founding, for charcoal, as the dusting between the mold and the melted metal.

Siliceous dusts are apt to arise especially in the making and re-dressing and re-cutting of millstones. They accumulate in the bronchiæ, which they scratch, and produce one of the most painful of coughs, with decline and loss of strength. Sometimes an eliminatory inflammation supervenes, with expectoration of masses of siliceous dust, particles of steel, and bits of bronchial membrane, and gives a temporary relief. But the disorders return, and the workmen have to leave the shops, to continue in a condition of marasmus an existence which is terminated by a premature death. The victims of this disease, called the St. Roch disease, are hardly ever able to endure more than eight or ten years in their occupation.

The dusts, moreover, which accumulate in the throat produce an incessant thirst, and lead the workmen to habits of intoxication. M. Mercier, of La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, a manufacturer of small mills, who himself works at the stones, has contrived a very thin and inexpensive silken veil, to which he has attached spectacles, for the protection of the eyes. He has used it with great success since 1870, but has not been able to induce more than twenty or twenty-five of his workmen to adopt it. The others laugh at it, and die of the dust against which they will not protect themselves.

Among the siliceous dusts should be included those arising in the manufacture of porcelain. At Charenton, St. Maurice, Montreuil near Paris, and Sarreguemines, the workers in porcelain die very frequently of pulmonary phthisis, hardly reaching more than the average age of forty-four years and a half, and rarely passing fifty years. The protecting veil ought to be used here also.

The dusts of gypsum, on the other hand, appear to be inoffensive, and even hygienic, according to Dr. Burq, who is almost tempted to attribute to them a salutary action in pulmonary phthisis. At any rate, the workmen recognize them as pleasant. They have only the single inconvenience, common to all dusts, of provoking thirst; and that thirst is not always quenched with pure water.

 

LITTRÉ, DUMAS, PASTEUR, AND TAINE.

THE names which we have placed at the head of this article are those of four of the most illustrious representatives of the intellect of France in the present age. M. Littré, whose recent death the Academy and the world of letters have to deplore, takes rank among