Provided by the Center for Disease Control's (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), this historic image, shot inside a Connecticut hat manufacturing plant, depicted a fur hat factory worker who was in the process of 'blocking' a hat under a stream of running water. Blocking involves shaping a hat using a block, hat cone in the basic shape of the final hat, and water. This man was not wearing a protective filtered breathing mask, goggles, or gloves. Working with newly processed fur, which had been 'carroted', or fixed with mercury nitrate, workers could be exposed to airborne mercury, thereby, suffering the detrimental neurologic consequences from its inhalation. Using steam, which was integral to the hatters' industry, the airborne dissemination of this neurotoxic element was facilitated.
CDC/ Barbara Jenkins, NIOSH; USPHS
November 27, 2012