History Lesson Saturday:  The Shoe Fitting Fluroscope

The following was copied from the following YouTube Channel, LINK here.   Please visit their, “The Historic Workplace & Environmental Health and Safety Films” YouTube page at that link.  This is good historical information. Rather than put it into our own words and risk degrading its thoroughness we quote it here.  It is good to look back at history. Some folks say this because we are told that those who do not know the history of things are destined to repeat them.  However, we have heard it put “History will repeat itself. Knowing history will make us aware of when it is about to repeat itself.”  Enjoy this piece of history.

“The shoe fitting fluoroscope was a common fixture in shoe stores during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The first fluoroscopic device for x-raying feet may have been created during World War I to eliminating the need for patients to remove their boots, to speed up the processing of the large number of injured military personnel who were seeking help. After the war the device was modified the device for shoe-fitting and showed it for the first time at a shoe retailers convention in Boston in 1920. The X-ray Shoe Fitter Corporation of Milwaukee Wisconsin and the Pedoscope Company of St. Albans in the U.K, were the two largest manufacturers of shoe fitting fluoroscopes. In the early 1950s, estimates placed the number of operating units in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada at 10,000, 3,000 and 1,000 respectively. After WWII, the manufacturers of shoe fitting fluoroscopes became concerned that their products would have to meet a myriad of standards that varied from location to location, and they asked the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) to recommend a uniform set of standards. The ACGIH did so and issued their guidance in 1950, an event that allowed the manufacturers to advertise that they met the ACGIH standards. By the early 1950s, a number of professional organizations had issued warnings about the continued use of shoe-fitting fluoroscopes, A few years later, Massachusetts passed regulations requiring that the machines be operated by a licensed physician. In 1957 the State of Pennsylvania became the first jurisdiction to ban the use of shoe fitting fluoroscopes. Attempts to impose regulatory restrictions on the use of shoe fitting fluoroscopes seem to have been limited to the United States . These machines continued to be used in Canada and the UK to a limited extent, at least until 1970. Many shoe salespersons put their hands into the x-ray beam to squeeze the shoe during the fitting. As a result, one saleswoman who had operated a shoe fitting fluoroscope 10 to 20 times each day over a ten year period developed dermatitis of the hands. One of the more serious injuries linked to the operation of these machines involved a shoe model who received such a serious radiation burn that her leg had to be amputated. For more on the history and use of these devices, go to: http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/shoefittingfluor/shoe.htm . This clip is from the 1920s silent film, General Personal Hygiene, available on the Internet Archives.”

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