Medicine: Death at the Hearth

With coal running scarce in Britain last fall, the housewives of Canklow village in Yorkshire were delighted when a junk dealer showed up hawking a pile of old auto battery cases. The vulcanite cases were certainly a bargain—only a shilling a sackful—and they blazed warmly in open grates.

Just before Christmas, a wave of mysterious illness struck Canklow's children, caused headaches, jaundice and anemia! Twenty-five children were rushed to hospitals, dozens more were treated at home. On Christmas Eve, doctors took 200 blood tests, diagnosed the plague as lead poisoning. Then they checked back, learned that every stricken child came from a...

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