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Health and safety issues in the Victorian workplace: an example of mandibular phosphorus necrosis from Gloucester, UK

Valoriani, S, Eliopoulos, C, Irish, JD and Borrini, M Health and safety issues in the Victorian workplace: an example of mandibular phosphorus necrosis from Gloucester, UK. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. ISSN 1047-482X (Accepted)

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Working conditions in factories during the Industrial Era in Great Britain have been linked to numerous occupational diseases. In this paper, the authors present a case study from Victorian Gloucester, where skeletal remains of a young male recovered from the Southgate Street 3/89 excavation exhibit osteonecrosis on the left mandibular ramus, a condition known as “phossy jaw”. The case is examined in terms of macroscopic characteristics, distribution and severity of lesions and differential diagnosis. The lesions consist of extensive bone necrosis with periosteal reaction and subperiosteal new bone formation that affects the left side of the mandible. Conditions that may have produced similar changes were considered and include various forms of neoplasms, actinomycosis and taphonomic alterations. However, these are rejected as they are not supported by the lesion characteristics. Additional supportive evidence for the case of phosphorus necrosis is offered by the historical context: in the 19th century, Gloucester was one of the main centres for match manufacture and it is well known that individuals who were directly exposed to phosphorus fumes developed a condition known as “phossy jaw”. The potential contribution of the current analysis in our understanding of working conditions in Victorian Gloucester is evaluated.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2101 Archaeology, 0403 Geology, 1601 Anthropology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (new Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2019 13:07
Last Modified: 21 Nov 2019 13:07
DOI or Identification number: 10.1002/oa.2833
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/11676

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