This public service announcement is from the February 14, 1884 edition of The Chatham Record. Apparently in the late nineteenth century even your wallpaper could kill you.
Poisonous Wall Paper
The following emanating from a firm of practical manufacturers, of Edingburg, may be a useful contribution to the discussion on the subject of poisonous colors in wall papers: “In a long and practical experience as color manufacturers, we have never known arsenic used in the manufacture of any color suitable for wall paper except emerald green. This bright and beautiful color has never been equaled by any no-arsenical green; bit it is expensive, and of very poor covering properties. For greens, blacks, blues, browns, reds, yellows, etc., either dry or in oil, the color maker has no need to use arsenic, and we cannot conceive what object would be served by his doing go, and certainly he would not do so in reducing a color to a tint with white. Years ago, a yellow was used called ‘king’s,’ or ‘canary’ yellow, containing arsenic; but it is long out of date, and was only used by coach painters. The whole matter rests upon the medium by which the tint or color is fixed to the paper or wall, and the volatility of any component part. Even emerald green is perfectly harmless if properly secured by oil or varnish; but when in used in cheap and showy papers where there is little or no fixed material, we can understand there is danger if exposed to undue heat. In better class papers it is seldom used. In regard to abstaining from the use of poisonous metallic substances in the manufacture of wall papers, we can only say, that, unless scraped off and eaten, they are perfectly harmless.”
Or as Strunk and White would put it: Happy Valentine’s Day, and don’t eat your wallpaper!