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The “Danbury Shakes”

Danbury, Connecticut used to be the center of the American hat industry. It was also known for the “Danbury shakes,” a condition that encompassed tremors, incoherent speech, difficulty in walking and eventual feeble mindedness. Victims of this disease were the hatters who used mercury compounds in the processing of felt material!  This condition was also known in Europe as evidenced by Lewis Carrol’s “Mad Hatter” character in the famous Alice stories. Great care needs to be exercised in the handling of mercury.  Even a broken thermometer can cause serious problems. The metal should be cleaned up with an eyedropper and placed in a sealed container. Never use a vacuum cleaner! It spreads the mercury vapor

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