According to the 2002 book Devices and Desires: A History of Contraceptives in America, “By 1940, the commercial douche had become the most popular birth control method in the country, favored by women of all classes. It would remain the leading female contraceptive until 1960, when a breakthrough technology– oral contraceptives– knocked it off its lofty pedestal… [T]he most popular brand, Lysol disinfectant, were soap solutions containing cresol… which, when used in too high a concentration, caused severe inflammation, burning, and even death.”
Devices and Desires further states that “Lysol was a caustic poison and in more concentrated form was retailed with a prominent skull-and-crossbones icon. Ingested, it could kill; applied externally, it irritated and burned. Lehn & Fink sold it for feminine hygiene anyway, ignoring a recommendation made by the 1912 Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry of the AMA…”
Several women reportedly died after using the product as directed. The worst part? It turned out, Lysol didn’t even work as a contraceptive at all: a 1933 study showed that 250 out of 507 women using the disinfectant got pregnant, probably about the same number who would have using no birth control at all.
My Dad was employed as a meteorologist at the Edgewood Arsenal. They made poison gas there during World War II. . . .
He used to bring equipment home from the lab for me to play with. . . little petri dishes full of mercury. . . . The entire floor of my bedroom had this ‘muck’ on it, made out of mercury mixed with dust balls. One of the things I used to like to do was pour the mercury on the floor and hit it with a hammer, so it squirted all over the place. I lived in mercury.
When DDT was first invented, my Dad brought some home -- there was a whole bag of it in the closet. . . .
Along with my earaches and asthma, I had sinus trouble. There was some ‘new treatment’ for this ailment being discussed in the neighborhood. It involved stuffing radium into your sinus cavities. . . . the doctor stuffed it up my nose and into my sinus cavities on both sides. . . .
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