background Arsenic in Wallpaper

The first time arsenic was used in wallpaper was in the mid-19th century. The chemical was added to create more vivid colors, and green was in particular popular at the time. In fact, it was the first green to use arsenic, and it was named after Carl Scheele, a chemist who developed the pigment. It wasn’t the only green to contain the poison, however. In 1772, William Morris, a textile manufacturer who had inherited a fortune from a mining company, began using the chemical to produce more vibrant hues. However, he remained skeptical about the poisonous effects of arsenic products, and in 1875, he shifted to a new, safer green.

In 1865, William Morris’s wallpaper was one of the first in the world to use a green color. This green was made with arsenic and was introduced to the manufacturing process in Schweinfurt, Germany. But the chemists who created the pigment had no idea that it would lead to health problems. They believed that their product did not pose a threat and they began using arsenic-free wallpaper.