The Victorian Lounge and Parlours
The Victorians used Arsenic in their Dye process for wallpaper in the homes of many affluent urban middle class settled in Victorian Cities. Due to the smog outside people felt at home with the windows shut and their Victorian fire places burning while slowly inhaling and ingesting the deadly poison.
The Victorian Wardrobe
The Victorian woman was seen as the house maker (Dicken’s even describes the ‘angel of the home’ in Edwin Drood) and Victorian woman increasingly wore corsets that constricted and even damaged the bodies inner organs and made normal breathing confined – this mode of dress appearance soon became championed against by the Rational Dress Society whose members included Constance Wilde (wife of Oscar Wilde). Even today the look of a narrower waist line still persists in fashion.
In the Kitchen
The Victorian age heralded gas lighting and gas central heating but these inventions were not always fully tested and gas piping often was prone to corrode which saw the emergence of cases of gas poisoning (the many gas companies would promote their utility as ‘natural gas’ and quite harmless, but with the advent of heating boilers and gas cookers that were not proper ventilated being sold as standalone and offering capability for heating water for steam heating these devices became pressure cookers waiting to explode. The Victorians also saw electricity first introduced into the homes – with new lighting the pinnacle of the modern Victorian technological era, but once again without proper safety many homes were destroyed by explosions caused by leaking gas and electrical ignition. It was only until 1923 that Gas Safety Regulations came into force.
The Victorian Nursery
One would assume the Victorian nursery would offer safety to the children of the middle class Victorian household, after all new laws came into power over child labour in the Victorian Era and because child mortality was still high (154,000 infants under the age of one year died annually between 1880 and 1890); the children of the Victorian middle classes could surely expect to be cherished, and the new manufacturing of children’s toys and their marketing led to to the new Victorian home consumer culture offering entertainment for children of a household. Toys with any form of level of pigmented colour would often have high levels of metals to create these painted items so white items may have contained lead and many toys had high toxic levels of lead which caused nausea; disorientation and eventually over prolonged use death. Lead was a common ingredient in painted metal toys and even though known as a poisonous metal since Roman times, it was a great preserver of wood. Lead absorption caused development abnormalities in children
The use of lead was so widely used in homes for painting interior walls and wooden surfaces that even in the 1920s when European laws forbid lead use in paints – Britain only finally banned and regulated lead levels in paints in the 1970s! .
Co-Incidentally, in the Victorian age the use of Laudanum, an opiate often combined with alcohol as a syrup provided to children of poorer families was often sold over the counter as a quieting medicine of young infants and babies who cried due to hunger. The use of such over the counter medicines disguised the growing problem of Victorian child malnourishment.
Another deadly killer arose from the Victorian attitude to modesty in breatfeeding their children and this led to the presumption that alternatives such as bottle feeding as mentioned in Mrs. Beaton’s Good Housekeeping Guide as to it’s application, what was not known in Victorian days even with the urban growth of sewerage being set up nationally was the requirement to properly sterilise bottles – these victorian ‘baby feeders’ were a magnet to bacterial growth on the porous parts of the feeding device often causing severe intestinal and respiratory infion resulting in countless infant mortalities.