During failed efforts to synthesize quinine, a highly sought after cure for malaria, the first synthetic dye was born. He found that aniline, a very prevalent byproduct of coal-gas production created a thick tar-like liquid with a purple-red color. This color became known as mauve and was added to cosmetics, food, and drugs in addition to clothing. Following this discovery were a number of other synthetic colors, also derived from coal-tar and this labelled the coal-tar colors, and the coal tar era.
It wasn’t until many years later that these colors were tested for toxicity and eventually banned in most countries. Unfortunately, coal-tar, and other toxic substances are still used in products, drugs, and food in America today.