A Toxic Environment: living in the Victorian era – A Steampunk Perspective

I am about to post an article about Arsenic Poisoning in 1889. I thought it might be a good idea to re-blog this article for some background.

Cogpunk Steamscribe

Painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting Painting by Georg Friedrich Kersting – displaying the popularity of Scheele’s Green

This post was inspired by a comment made by mjtierney1 of Airship Flamel.

I had a professor in grad school who analyzed snippets of hair from 19th century hair wreaths. The amount of heavy metals present was amazing. Probably not surprising considering plumbing was made of lead, mercury compounds were used as drugs, and arsenic was a common insecticide.

I am fairly certain Paris Green is the insecticide that he is thinking of. This is an arsenic compound that was also used in artist’s paints, and is highly toxic. It was widely available, and used to spray crops like apples in Europe and America. Another arsenic-based insecticide was London Purple – don’t you love these innocent names?

Then there was Scheele’s Green, one of the most popular and fashionable colours of the Victorian era. It was used in wallpapers…

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