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Thread: Absolute History - Hidden Killers - Edwardian Technology

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Absolute History - Hidden Killers - Edwardian Technology

    The Terrifying Ways Edwardians Wired Their Houses | Hidden Killers | Absolute History - YouTube
    Dr Suzannah Lipscomb looks at the damage caused by the hazardous new inventions lurking in British people's homes as the 20th century dawned under the reign King Edward VII.
    Nice documentary.

    In its early days, home electricity did not have very safe wiring. Like bare wiring and several appliances hung off of a single wire. Before good insulation and fuses and circuit breakers, this caused a big risk of fire and electrocution. Before electric lighting, there was gas lighting, using coal gas (from baking coal with a little air and water, making hydrogen and carbon monoxide). That persisted for a while, and it could be set on fire with a spark from the electricity. Some early electric stuff was rather dumb, like electric tablecloths.

    Asbestos was common in insulation for a long time, but asbestos dust gets into lungs and causes nasty things.

    Refrigerators used a variety of coolants, some of them flammable like light hydrocarbons, some of them toxic like ammonia and sulfur dioxide. We've developed other coolants, though we still use some of the old ones in some applications. We've gotten better at containing them, so they are much less of a threat.

    Makeup sometimes used toxic stuff like lead and arsenic compounds for making skin look pale and mercury oxide for rouge -- stuff that was often advertised with lots of false claims.

    Also bad was hair perming - it often caused women's hair to fall out.

    When radium was discovered, it was sometimes sold as a great medicine. But it has a problem - it's a chemical analog of calcium, and it accumulates in bones, causing aplastic anemia and bone cancer. It was good for making glow-in-the-dark paint, like for clocks and watches, and while it is safe for its users, it was not very safe for those who had to paint it on.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    She is British, and her accent gives her away:
    Suzannah Lipscomb
    Suzannah Lipscomb | Home - Suzannah Lipscomb - her home page
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    Suzannah Lipscomb - IMDb

    She's done a lot of other historical documentaries. From her "About" page:
    Professor Suzannah Lipscomb MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), F.R.Hist.S., FHEA, is an historian, author, broadcaster, and award-winning professor of history at the University of Roehampton.

    At a glance:
    • Suzannah holds an MA, MSt and DPhil from Lincoln and Balliol Colleges, Oxford
    • She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
    • She is the author of five books of history and co-editor of another
    • She has written and presented 18 television history documentary series on the BBC, ITV, Channel Five, National Geographic, UKTV, Yesterday Channel etc.
    • She is an award-winning academic, having won the AHRC Humanities in the Creative Economy Award 2011, the Museums + Heritage Award for Excellence 2012, and the Nancy Roelker Prize 2012
    • She is an award-winning presenter, winning Silver Award for Best Branded Content at the British Podcast Awards 2018 for ‘Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places’ with Historic England
    • She is a columnist for History Today
    • She was Creative Director of the award-winning 'We Are Bess' exhibition at the National Trust's Hardwick Hall, 2018-19


    Research and writing

    Suzannah's research focuses on the sixteenth century, both on English and French history. She works on Henry VIII and the early Tudor court, and is especially interested in the intersection of religious, gender, political, social, and psychological history. This has led her to write about Henry VIII’s annus horribilis, 1536; Anne Boleyn’s fall; and the creation of Henry VIII’s last will and testament. She is also interested in ordinary women's lives, faith, marriages, and sexuality in sixteenth-century France, which is the subject of her latest major book, and in witchcraft and the witch-trials. She has additionally published on heritage and public history, writing a regular column for History Today that explores the role of history outside the academy.

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Edwardian = early 20th cy.
    Victorian = late 19th cy.
    The Deadly Fashions Of The Victorians | Hidden Killers | Absolute History - YouTube
    Hidden Killers of the Victorian Home: In a genuine horror story, Suzannah Lipscomb reveals the lethal products, gadgets and conveniences that lurked in every room of the Victorian home and shows how they were unmasked.
    Starts out with wallpaper. Green wallpaper was common back then, and a common pigment back then was Scheele's green, an arsenic-based pigment.

    Arsenic?

    Yes, arsenic, with its well-deserved reputation for toxicity. People would suffer arsenic poisoning from chewing on wallpaper and from breathing wallpaper dust. It was outlawed in several Continental-European countries, but wallpaper makers stopped using that pigment only after it had gotten a *very* bad reputation.

    There were some people who pooh-poohed the notion that arsenic is dangerous, including a gentleman who championed handmade furniture. That gentleman owned a stake in an arsenic mine. The Arsenic Pigments that Poisoned the Victorian Age

    Gas lighting was common back then, where the gas was often coal gas, made by heating coal with water. It's a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide or dioxide. I was disappointed that the documentary wasn't more careful about the chemistry. That aside, it could leak and then cause carbon monoxide poisoning or else explode.

    Corsets were a common part of Victorian fashion, and they were often worn tight enough to give narrow waists. But in the process, they pushed their wearers' internal organs around and they made it more difficult for their wearers to breathe.

    Children's toys often got bright colors from toxic-metal pigments, pigments that children could ingest from chewing on the toys or licking the toys.

    Lead was common in wall paint and in plumbing and the like. It often resulted in lead poisoning. But lead paint was used for decades after the Victorian era.

    Milk bottles for babies were often sealed with corks. These are porous, and they are thus good places for bacteria to live. Plastic alternatives are much less hospitable to bacteria. Some early bottles were hard to wash, accumulating residues, also good for bacteria.

    Absolute History - YouTube has more hidden killers.

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    Ok, I hasve a question related to this topic. I know before electric lights Christmas trees were decorated with lit candles .How the Hell were these not constantly turning into infernos.

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