NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search
Matchmakers' "phossy jaw" eradicated.
Myers ML; McGlothlin JD
Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 1996 Apr; 57(4):330-332
Efforts associated with the worldwide eradication of phosphorus necrosis ("Phossy jaw") were reviewed. This disease was seen in factory workers occupationally exposed to phosphorus (7723140) during the manufacture of matches. Phosphorus containing matches stopped being produced following the passage of the Match Act of 1912 which established a prohibitive tax on each box of matches made with white phosphorus. This action came as a result of the investigative and lobbying efforts of the American Association for Labor Legislation and studies conducted by Dr. Alice Hamilton. The concomitant availability of sesquisulfide, a safe alternative for white phosphorus, helped eradicate the production of phosphorus containing matches, and the associated necrosis. Enactment of the Public Health Service Act in 1912 allowed for the enforcement of the Match Act through inspections and a rapid method for differentiating between the toxic white and yellow phosphorus from nontoxic red phosphorus and sesquisulfide was soon developed. The early history of "Phossy jaw" was reviewed. The authors conclude that the eradication of "Phossy jaw" is an example of the prevention of an occupational disease by international actions through the power of national governments.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-diseases; Occupational-exposure; Phosphorus-compounds; Factory-workers; Epidemiology; Regulations; Factory-workers
Issue of Publication
American Industrial Hygiene Association Journal
Page last reviewed: November 20, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division