Rare self-published pamphlet on asphyxiation caused by cesspit fumes and “experiments on the means of disinfection to prevent such accidents”, based on the author’s presentation to l’Académie Royale de Médecine on March 12th, 1825.
Antoine Germaine Labarraque (1777-1850) was a French chemist and pharmacist who introduced the use of sodium hypochlorite (now known as Labarraque’s liquid) as the first disinfecting agent in 1823. He experimented with hypochlorites in a variety of settings, including operating theatres, dissecting rooms, hospitals, morgues, prisons, latrines, sewers, and abattoirs, which they successfully disinfected (though this was still poorly understood, as the germ theory of disease did not yet exist) and from which they removed the stench of decay, being particularly useful during the Cholera outbreak of 1832. In 1847 Ignaz Semmelweis first used the solutions to disinfect the hands of surgeons in order to prevent the spread of the “cadaveric particles” that he believed caused disease, later applying them to stop the transmission of childbed fever. The present pamphlet discusses chemical methods of preventing deaths from cesspit fumes among sanitation workers. Rare in commerce and institutionally; we can locate only two copies, in the Bibliothèque Nationale and the Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, and none in auction records.
See Norman 1245 for another of Labarraque’s pamphlets on disinfection.
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