Dust and Fume as Foes of Industry

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Abstract

Editor's note: From its first issue in 1900 through to the present day, AJN has unparalleled archives detailing nurses’ work and lives over more than a century. These articles not only chronicle nursing's growth as a profession within the context of the events of the day, but they also reveal prevailing societal attitudes about women, health care, and human rights. Today's nursing school curricula rarely include nursing's history, but it's a history worth knowing. To this end, From the AJN Archives highlights articles selected to fit today's topics and times.

This month's article, from the November 1915 issue, addresses “dust and fume” in the workplace—what we would refer to today as smoke and other particulate matter. Author L. Jayne Baudin saw these as a significant danger of “modern industry,” second only to mechanical injury. More than 100 years ago, she wrote that “dust and smoke have a great influence upon the mortality of a locality, especially in deaths from lung diseases.” She recommended that workdays be shortened to 10 hours for men and eight hours for youths, and that “pauses in the work” be taken to allow workers time away from the dust.

Today even more is known about the health effects of “dust and fume.” In this month's Environments and Health column, Jessica Castner and Barbara J. Polivka explore nursing interventions with patients who have suffered health effects from particulate exposures, and discuss the ways in which nurses can influence environmental public policy.

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