This historical image, which was provided by the Center for Disease Control's (CDC), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), was shot inside a Connecticut hat manufacturing plant. The photograph depicted a number of hat manufacturers on a hat-assembly line performing the act of 'kneading' the processed animal fur. Kneading the fur by manipulating it like dough, dipping it in boiling water, then kneading the material again, and again, allowed the fir to commingle without having to weave the fibers, in order to form a cloth material, which will later become a hat. Working with the 'carroted' animal fir, opened the workers up to the possibility of succumbing to mercury poisoning, a heavy metal used in the processing of the raw fir. The steam, liberated from the kneading process, facilitated the airborne dissemination of the mercury nitrate, which could easily be inhaled with proper ventilation, and a protective breathing mask.
CDC/ Barbara Jenkins, NIOSH; USPHS
December 4, 2012