Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


Description:Toward the back of the photo, a row of workers in a Connecticut hat making plant shrink and shape hat felt into appropriate sizes. The plant was part of the 1937-1938 PHS industrial hygiene and engineering study of mercury exposure and its health effects in the hatmaking industry, which was published as USPHS Public Health Bulletin No. 263, Mercurialism and its Control in the Felt-Hat Industry, 1941. The process is noted in captions of several photos in the Bulletin” “The terms hardening, starting, wetting down, and sizing refer to successive stages in a shrinking process by which the hat body…is reduced to specific size by being wrapped in burlap, dipped in hot water, and kneaded by hand or on rotating rollers. About three-eighths of the employees of felt-hat factories are engaged in [these] operations.
The average atmospheric mercury concentration was 2.1 mg. Hg per 10 M.3 air.” Note that on the low wood wall facing the camera is the stenciled instruction: “Please start this fan when kettles are heating up.” It appears, however, that steam from the kettles, which would be laden with mercury, is wafting freely in the atmosphere. Note, too, that the USPHS instrument used in this study to measure mercury vapor concentrations, sits on the wall above this instruction.

The NIOSH Historic Photo Collection began as the “picture file” of the Industrial Hygiene Division of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), c. 1930-1960. It is a unique collection of mid-20th Century images of American workers and workplaces and documents occupational safety and health research of that era. The collection consists of approximately 1,000 original photographs and schematic drawings.

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (3.22 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ Barbara Jenkins, NIOSH; USPHS
Creation Date:1937
Photo Credit:U.S. Public Health Service
Links:United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
CDC – Nat. Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – About NIOSH
CDC Organization
Skip Navigation Links.

Skip Navigation Links.
Anthropology, Education, Sociology and Social Phenomena
Social Sciences
Government Agencies
United States Dept. of Health and Human Services
United States Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Biological Sciences
Environment and Public Health
Public Health
Accident Prevention
Safety Management
Accidents, Occupational
Environmental Pollution
Environmental Exposure
Occupational Exposure
Maximum Allowable Concentration
Threshold Limit Values
Noise, Occupational
Waste Products
Industrial Waste
Health Occupations
Specialties, Medical
Preventive Medicine
Occupational Medicine
Chemicals and Drugs
Chemical Actions and Uses
Toxic Actions
Environmental Pollutants
Air Pollutants
Air Pollutants, Environmental
Air Pollutants, Occupational
Industrial Waste
Disorders of Environmental Origin
Occupational Diseases
Mercury Poisoning
Mercury Poisoning, Nervous System
Nervous System Diseases
Neurotoxicity Syndromes
Heavy Metal Poisoning, Nervous System
Mercury Poisoning, Nervous System
Respiratory Tract Diseases
Lung Diseases
Geographic Locations
Geographic Locations
North America
United States
New England
Health Care
Health Care Economics and Organizations
Government Agencies
United States Dept. of Health and Human Services
United States Public Health Service
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Population Characteristics
Occupational Health
Technology and Food and Beverages
Technology, Industry, and Agriculture
Manufactured Materials
Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.