London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Battersea 1928

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Battersea Borough]

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3rd July, 1928.
A complaint has been received signed by a number of residents
in the vicinity of the Poli Varn Factory, Harbut Road, dated the
16th June, 1928, of the deposit of dust from this factory which
affects their houses, and I have personally investigated the matter.
The complaint appears to have been influenced to some extent by
the enquiry which has just been concluded by the Coroner in which
the deaths of two of the women workers employed in this factory
are shewn from medical evidence to have been due to silicosis, from
the inhalation of dust containing silica used in the manufacture or
preparation of some of the firm's products.
The exhibition on the part of the residents in the neighbourhood
of this factory of a certain amount of alarm and anxiety
as to risk to health is not, in the circumstances, surprising, but even
if evidence was available that there was any serious discharge of
dust from these works, the risk to health of persons living outside
the premises would, in my opinion, be relatively slight.
The factory has been under observation since the complaint
was received by the Senior and District Sanitary Inspectors and
myself; and many houses, occupied by persons who signed the
complaint have been inspected, and little or no evidence of the
deposit of dust from the factory has been observed.
The factory is situate in Harbut Road, in the midst of a fairly
populous residential area, and the yards and gardens of several
of the houses abut on the factory premises.
The processes carried on at these works consist of the making
of metal polish, boot polish, and furniture polish, etc. The first
mentioned is made from powdered quartz (mainly silica), which is
mixed with dry soap powder, the resultant product being sold as a
proprietary article called "Scourine." The raw material used in
the preparation of the metal polish is purchased and consists of
quartz in a fine amorphous and powdered state. The process of
preparation is briefly as follows:—
The powdered quartz is dumped from a sack into a hopper and
passes into a "churn," a closed metal bin or trough, and is there
mixed with a saponaceous powder, thence it passes through a conveyor
to an elevator on the first floor, to a filler provided with
six funnels. These discharge into containers, which are 1 lb. paper
cartons. These containers or cartons are filled by girl operatives,
and are passed on to a sealing machine, after which they are labelled
and ready for sale.