16 Sep 2020

Dan Andersson a victim of a bed bug treatment

Today it is 100 years since the Swedish poet Dan Andersson died from hydrogen cyanid poisoning

On September 15, 1920, the poet went to Stockholm, where he had received an offer for a job at the newspaper Social-Demokraten. He checked into Hotell Hellman on Bryggaregatan and left his lugagge to go out and meet some friends, without reacting to the special odor in the hotel room. Earlier the same day, another hotel guest had declined to stay in this room (Number 11) due to the smell. The day before, several of the rooms in the hotel had been treated with hydrogen cyanide against bed bug infestations.

Dan Andersson, 1888-1920
Två personer förgiftade på hotell Hellman i går
Svenska Dagbladet 1920-09-17

During the night Dan Andersson returned home form a night on town and went to bed. Unfortunately, it turned out that there were large amounts of poison left in the bedding and the poet died in his sleep during the night. After lunchtime on September 16, 1920, he was found dead in his room, 32 years old, newlyweds and expecting his first child. Another person died from the poison at the hotel the same night.

About HCN
The Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered the substance (hydrocyanic acid, HCN) in 1782. Hydrogen cyanide has a taste reminiscent of bitter almonds and smells like Coccoina glue. The toxic substance was used as a pesticide during the first half of the 20th century. Especially against bed bug infestations, which was a growing problem in Swedish and many other European homes and hotels during this time.

An advertisement for hydrogen cyanide and control against bed bugs and other pests. Cyankompaniet’s branch in Sundsvall.

Although people were aware of how dangerous the substance was to humans ,and not only to the vermin, it was widely used as a pesticide in Sweden and other countries at this time. More people than the poet Dan Andersson met a premature death due to inadequate ventilation after treatment with hydrogen cyanide. Not least, hydrogen cyanide was present as an active ingredient in the product Zyklon B, which was used by the Nazis in the gas chambers during the Holocaust of World War II.

In general, pest control throughout the 20th century has been characterized by a widespread use of insecticides. Hydrogen cyanide as a pesticide was gradually replaced by DDT, to which we will return at a later time. Initially, therefore, the emphasis was on conventional pest control methods when bedbugs made their retreat in our homes in the 2000s. However, since a few years back we are increasingly noticing a transition to more sustainable, less insanitary and more environmentally friendly methods. The latter include Nattaro Labs products.

More information on Dan Andersson, hydrogen cyanid and Nattaro Labs products,







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