In the Archives: Poison Pages

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Originally a byproduct of the European mining industry, arsenic offered mining companies a means of profiting from a waste product, and offered manufacturers a means of obtaining a cheap dye. Thousands of tons were annually imported to the United States. The substance produced lovely hues ranging from deep emerald to pale sea-green. Arsenic could also be mixed into other colors, giving them a soft, appealing pastel appearance. The first application of arsenic as a pigment was as a paint dye. The pale green shade caught on as a “refined” color. American manufacturers began using arsenic to color a range of consumer goods. Children’s toys were painted with arsenical paint. Arsenic-dyed paper was used in greeting cards, stationery, candy boxes, concert tickets, posters, food container labels, mailing labels, pamphlets, playing cards, book-bindings, and envelopes –envelopes the sender had to lick.
From The Ann Arbor Chronicle | In the Archives: Poison Pages

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