Learn about the stories behind 10 extraordinary inventions. In this video, you'll learn about accidents at matchbox factories.
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Male Speaker: When Sesquisulphide of phosphorus was discovered, the Diamond match company of Minnesota quickly embraced the technology and received a patent for the first non-poisonous match in the United States. Previously, workers is match factory were very likely to die from exposure to phosphorous. The ailment phosphorus necrosis was commonly referred to as phossy jaw; it was a form of bone cancer, often contracted in the jaw. The disease afflicted many young women between 9 and 21 years of age. Those who are lucky enough to survive were left with haunting facial disfigurements. The disease would appear suddenly after years of exposure to phosphorous fumes. The young women might wake up one day with sharp tooth aches and swelling in the jaw. Ignored as to the cause, she would continue working as the disease spread rapidly. Her teeth would become loose and spontaneously fall out. Thick pungent material would appear where her teeth had been. The teeth which remain will loose end up a brown hue. Pungent fluid would flow from her mouth. Bone would be exposed. Her tongue furred and she would cough a thick purulent material. Eventually the trauma would cause the brain to hemorrhage with the patient dying between 6 and 18 months after developing the disease. The only cure was the total removal of the jaw. In the interest of public safety, President William Howard Taft appealed to the President of the Diamond match company to release the technology of non-poisonous matches. On January 28th 1911, Diamond relinquished its exclusive rights to the non-poisonous match. Congress then taxed white phosphorus so heavily the production of is seized almost immediately.