Poisons

Some weeks ago there appeared in a New York newspaper an article which was briefly as follows: A man was taken sick one morning, went to bed, and sent for a physician. The latter diagnosed the case, but was unable to learn, either by examination or by questioning, what ailed him; he grew worse and was taken to a hospital. Here it was found, through closely inquiring into what he had eaten for a day or two previous, that the day before he was taken ill he had been using a solution of pyrogallic acid, a substance used in photography, and he remembered that during the night following he had taken a drink of what he supposed to be water from a glass on the table, but which possibly might have been the developing solution. The doctors at once concluded that this was the cause of the sickness, and proceeded to give such treatment as would counteract the action of the drug upon the system. The man died in less than a week. An examination discovered the presence of the drug in his stomach, and the verdict rendered was that death was caused by pyrogallic acid poisoning.

The article ended by stating that pyrogallic acid was not known to be poisonous (it being a compound not taken internally) and is not labelled poison when sold; but that this case shows beyond a doubt that it is a poison, is injurious to the human system, and is hereafter to be considered as such.

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Communication from a Non-Scientist
February 23, 1899
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