• U.S.

Medicine: Factory Acne

2 minute read

Acne, the militancy of Pennsylvania health officials, and regard for public opinion last week led General Electric Co. to shut down its wire factory at York, Pa. At that factory, only one of its kind in the General Electric setup, insulated wire is proofed against water and fire by impregnation in a synthetic wax prepared from chlorine and naphthalene. People who work with such waxy compounds run the risk of getting their pores plugged, breaking out with pimples. To safeguard against that industrial hazard in its York factory, General Electric compelled every workman to take a shower bath before leaving the factory, supplied freshly laundered overalls twice a week, kept a physician in constant attendance.

Last week 102 out of 124 factory employes were found to be suffering from skin troubles, especially acne. Governor George Howard Earle’s Secretary of Labor & Industry, Ralph M. Bashore, filed a complaint. Quicker on the trigger was Dr. Martha Edith MacBride-Dexter, Pennsylvania’s potent Secretary of Health. Last week she rushed a squad of public health inspectors to York. Surgeon General Cummings,* hearing of the trouble, promised Federal help to Governor Earle who telegraphed C. F. Obermeier, manager of the factory: “I appeal to your sense of public spirit and your regard for public health and welfare to shut down the plant.” Flabbergasted, Mr. Obermeier communicated with General Electric officials at their Schenectady, N. Y. headquarters, got orders to close his plant until more ventilators could be installed.

*Who resigns this week, after 41 years with the U. S. Public Health Service.

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