Francis Lieber.

Library of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) online

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nsthmatical from inhaling the light flint-dust in suspension; pearl button-makers and
pin-pointers, who suffer from bronchitis and haemoptysis; the makers of grinding
Stones; the makers of Portland cement, etc. In some trades irritant vapors are more or
Jess associated with suspended particles in causing disease. Brass-founders suffer-not
only bronchitis and asthma from the inhaled dust, but also a special disease, d<erihed
by Dr. Greenhow (in the Proceedings of the Medico- Chirurrj. Soc. vol. 4) as brass-founders'
ague, which is apparently produced by the inhalation of the fumes of oxide of zinc;
the symptoms being oppression of the chest, with indefinite nervous sensations, followed
by shivering, a hot stage, and profuse sweating. Coppersmiths and tin-plate workers
are liable to somewhat similar attacks. Plumbers, house-painters, manufacturers of

* Ninth Report of the Medical Officer of the Privy Council (tR66), pap^s 20 ami 515.
t It may interest some of our readers to know that by washing the cavity of the inouth, with a very
vreak solution of Coudy's fluid, the odor of tobacco is instantly removed.


white-lead, etc., are, as is well known, liable to lend poisoning. The peculiar affectiou
to which workers in mercury and its amalgams, as silverers and water-gilders, are
exposed, is described in the article PARALYSIS, under the name ot mercurial trentor, or
the trem'Jts. In the various trades in which arsenical compounds are employed, as in
making artificial flowers, green paper for walls, etc., preparing arsenical pigments, etc.,
the well known symptoms of chronic arsenical poisoning are likely to ensue. Ou the
subject, Dr. Guy lias, at the request of government, drawn up an elaborate report.

Passing from inorganic or unorganized matter to organic substances floating in the
atmosphere, and giving rise to a large class of important diseases, we may remark that
it still remains to be decided in what exact condition this organic matter exists whether
it is in the form of impalpable particles, or moist or dry epithelial or puss cells; " and
whether il is always contained in the substances discharged or thrown oiffiom the body
(as is certainly the case in small-pox), or is produced by putrefactive changes in these
discharges, as is supposed to be the case in cholera and dysentery, is also a matter of
doubt. But, from tne way in which, in many cases, the organic substiince is absorbed
by hygroscopic substances, it appears that it is often combined, or at any rate condensed,
with the water of the atmosphere." Parkcs, op. cit., p. 86. This much is known \\ith
certainty regarding the specific poisons viz., that they differ extremely in the readiness
witli which they are oxidized and rendered harmless. While typhus and oriental plague
throw off a poison, which, if there is due ventilation is readily destroyed, the poisons of
small-pox and scarlatina spread in defiance of free ventilation, and retain their virulence
for weeks or months.

(b) The most important gaseous matters in the air likely to produce diseases are car-
bonic acid and carbonic <.>.nde. The normal quantity of carbonic acid in the air being
regarded as .5 iu 1000 volumes, "it produces fatal results when the amount reaches 50
per 1000 volumes; Mid at an amount much below this, 15 or 20 per 1000, it produc( 8 in
Borne persons, at any rale, severe headache." Dr. de Chaumont, assistant professor of
hygiene at Netley, has published a valuable paper in the Lancet for Sept., 1866, in which
he shows how the amount of air necessary to reduce the carbonic acid of respiration to
a given standard could be calculated; and in the Edinburgh Medical Journal for May
1807, he baa given extended formula for calculating most of the problems connected
wi;h ventilation. Amongst the most important of his conclusions are the following: (1)
We cannot safely accept a lower standard of puiily than .06 per cent of carbonic ;.cid.
(,') Uniform diffusion Icing supposed, we cannot preserve this standard with a less
delivery of fresh air than 8,000 cubic ft. per head per hour. (8) We must provide an air
f p.Tcc wLich will of the delivery of 8,CCO cubic ft. per head, and at the 8rn t e time
preclude the necessity of changing the \\hole air FO often as six times per hour, for
which condition a minimum of 1000 cubic ft. is absolutely necessary.* Carbon c oxide
(q.v.), which is often developed in association with carbonic acid, is far more rclivcly
poisonous than carbonic acid. An atmosphere containing % per cent killid t-mall biida
in three minutes; and when 1 per cent was pimnt they died in half this time (Lcthcby).
.For the effect of other gaseous matters, as sulphurctcd hydrogen, carbureted hydiogon,
sulphurous acid gas, hydrochloric acid gas, etc. we must refer to any of the more clab-
urate works on this subject.

(c) The impurities from several co-ra-ixliitg afjents next claim attention. In point of
fact, these are the impurities with which we have practically almost always to dcj.1, and
it is very probable that a knowledge of ihe actions of two or more i olated noxious
rgctils might lead us to very incorrect conclusions regarding the composite effect that is
r.ctually produced. When air is vitiated by respiration, it is popularly believed that the
( arbonic acid gas is the chief poisonous agent: and that the fatality in such well known
rases as the Black Hole (q.v.) of Calcutta, the prison in which the Austrians were placed
lifter the battle of Austerlitz, the steamer Londonderry, etc., is pimply due to the action
of this gas. The true poisonous agencies in tl'ese instances are the organic matter,
which is always found in air rendered fetid by the prolonged respiration and cutaneous
exhalation of a crowd of human beings, and the deficiency of the oxidation, and the
consequent increase of putrescent matter in the body (see Carpenter's Human Phytiolttgy,
]W>i. p. 304). Putting aside these extreme cases, which are of rare occurrence, we have
abundant evidence in the reports of the Health of Towns commission, and elsewhere, that
t'je continuous inhalation of an atmosphere moderately vitiated from respiration has an
injurious effect on the health. The aeration of Ihe blood is imperfectly effected, and the
nutrition generally is more or less interfered with Although impure air has long been
vaguely regarded as a cause of phthisis, it is only during the present century that the '
fact has been placed on unquestionable authority. It may now be regarded as estab-
lished that not only phthisis but other lung-diseases may have their origin in breathing
an atmosphere contaminated by respiration. The subject is one of such vih.l importance
that. w<! shall adduce the very strong evidence of Dr. Parkcs. who most distinctly prove*
that the prevalence of phthisis among our troops is in a direct ratio to the impurity of

* A committee, of which sir T. Watson was president, recently appointed by the poor-lav board to
consider the question of the amount of cubic space necessary lor the sick in work-now* infirmaries
r< port that for ordinary patients 850. for offensive cases J200, and for fever patients 2.000 cubic feet
should be allowed. Although these spaces are greater than we find in most work-houses, it is obvious
from the statements in the text that they are not sufficient.


the air in the barracks. " A great amount of phthisis used to prevail," he observes, "in
the nust varied stations of tlie army, and in ihe most beautiful climates, iu Gibraltar,
Malta, Ionia, Jamaica, Trinidad, Bermuda, etc., in all which places the only common
condition was the vitiated atmosphere which our barrack-system everywhere produced.
And, as if to clench the argument, there lias been of late years a most decided decline
in phthisical cases in these stations, while the only circumstance which has notably
changed in the lime has been the condition of the air. So also the extraordinary amount
of consumption which prevails in the men of the royal and merchant navies, and which,
.in some men-of-war, has amounted to a veritable epidemic, is in all probability attributa-
ble to the faulty ventilation." Op. cit., pp. 91, 92. A considerable amount of evidence
in support of this view is afforded by comparative pathology. The extraordinary mor-
tality of phthisis among the inhabitants of the old monkey-house in ihe zoological gar-
dens was found to be dae to overcrowding and bad ventilation; and now, in their present
airy residence, the inhabitants are no longer prematurely cut off. The overcrowding to
which cows iu large towns are subjected Teads to the great amount of pulmonary disease
among these animals; while horses, which in the worst stables have more free air than
cows, rarely suffer. Not only are pulmonary affections induced by the prolonged respi-
ration of air partially vitiated by organic exhalations, but such an atmosphere seems to
favor the spread of several well-known speciiic diseases, as typhus, plague, small-pox,
scarlatina, and measles.

Hitherto we have simply considered the effect of breathing an atmosphere vitiated by
the exhalations given off by persons in ordinary health; if we now pass to the consider-
ation of the air of a crowded hospital-ward, we shall nud the organic matter not only
more abundant, but at the same time far more noxious. The convalescence of patients
ie much retarded by their being kept in such an atmosphere (see CONVALESCENT HOS-
PITALS). When the air has absorbed a certain amount of organic impurity, its respira-
tion is very liable to give rise to erysipelas an 1 hospital gangrene. Sowers and old csxs-
pools, when opened, give off aeuxigs-gu* containing carbonic acid, sulphureted hydrogen,
sulphide of ammonium, and putrid organic vap:>r. A case is give.i in the first volume
of the Health of To an? Rsp-irt., which forcibly illustrates this fact. When a privy con-
nected with a school at Clapham was cleaned out. 23 of the children were seize.! witli
violent vomiting and purging, headache, great prostration, and convulsive muscular
twitch ings; and two of them died within 21 hours. Sjwer-inen are more liable to
typhoid and typhus fever than other persons; but night-men and scavengers do not scom
liable to any special disease. The eff::ct of dilated sewer- gas from bad drainage on the
Iieakh of the population at large, is a distinct question, int.o which we have no. space to
eater, further than to remark that typhoid an.i diarrhea are commonly induced by the
escape of this gas through our drains and water-closets into our houses. The effects of
the impurities arising from manufactories of various kinds are of course extremely
varied; and the subject is so extensive a one that it must be touched upon very briefly.
Sulphurous and sulphuric acid are given o.T from vitriol and opper-sraelting works;
hydrochloric acid from alkali-works; arsenical fu. nes and sulphurous acid from copper
and lead smelting furnaces; carbonic acid an 1 carbonic oxidj from cement-works, etc.
Soap and candle manufactories, if not well superintended, yield various gases of a ran-
cid smell, and even that powerful irritant, acroleine. Gas-works in which th<; wet-lime
process of purification is adopted, often evolve sulphureted hydrogen to such a degree
as to become a nuisance injurious to health. Manure-works usually evolve more or less
disgusting smells according to the basis operated on and the mode of preparation. No
bad effect on the health has, so far as we know, been observed in this country from the
gases given off by such works, and the exhalations from the manufactories of povdrette,
which is dry fajcal matter, are positively declared, by several of the highest French
authorities, to exercise no injurious action either on man or vegetation; but the emi-
nent French hygienist, Parent Duchatelet, relates two cases in which pondrette under-
went fermentation on board ship; and in one of these cases the vessel lost half her
crew (number not state. 1); while in the other, all on board (five) suffered from intense
headache, pain in the limbs, vomiting, prostration, and (in two cases) diarrhea. The
air of old graveyards, when they are disturbed, often gives rise to epidemics of fever;
but the effect of the effluvia of comparatively recent putrefying human bodies is
much more decided. Numerous cases are recorded of asphyxia and various forms of
fever arising from the exhumation and disturbance of bodies. How far the effluvia
rising from slaughter-Jtounes and knac-kf.ries are injurious to health is an open ques-
on. There is very strong general evidence that the men employed at Montfancon
X wher3, however, the ventilation is excellent, and no putrid matters arc allowed to
remain) enjoy good health; and Tardieu, from a late re examination of the point, con-
firms the old conclusion, except so far as glanders and malignant pustule are con-
cerned. , The danger of breathing the air of ninrslirft also requires notice. Malaria
seems not only to occasion intermittent and remittent fevers, but diarrhea and pnro
dysentery. Organic matter to ihe amount of eight grains has been obtained from 1000
cubic feet of air collected over marshes; and it is worthy of notice that it has juet the
same chemical characters as the organic matter exhaled from the lungs, tun. ing red
with nitrate of silver, yielding ammonia when treated with lime, and blackening sul-
phuric acid when drawn through it. See Mapother, op. cit., p. 87.



The nexT ^omt to be considered is the means to be adopted for continually changing
the air, bo us u/ li^ep it in its natural purity. We have already shown that this change
must, amount to ut least 2,000 cubic i't. per head per hour for persons in health; and
eomelimes double that amount, or more, for sick persons. The general principles
of ventilation having been treated in the article on WARMING AND VENTILATION, we
shall confine ourselves here to a few supplementary observations. In whatever way the
fresh air is supplied there are several essential conditions to be observed, of which the
following, as stated by Dr. Parkes, deserve special notice: (1) "The entering air must
itself be pure. It limit be warmed if too cold, and cooled if too warm. (2) Its move-
ment should be imperceptible, otherwise it will cause the sensation of draught, aiid will
chill. The rate at which the movement becomes imperceptible is 1^ i't. per second, or
1.86 m. per hour; 2 and 2 ft. per second, or 1.4 and 1.7 in. per hour, are imperceptible
to some persons; 3 ft. per second, or 2m. per hour, is perceptible to most; 3 ft. is
perceived by all persons. Any greater speed than this will give the sensation of
draught, especially if the entering air be of a different temperature, or moist. (3) It
must be well diffused all through the room, so that in every part a movement snail be
going on in other words, the distribution must be perfect. (4) The outgoing air must
be removed so immediately that there shall be no risk of a person breathing again either
bis own expired air or that of any other person." Op. cit., p. 103. The action of the wind
is a powerful ventilating agent. It it can pass freely through a room with open doors
and windows it changes the air to an extent that can be effected in no other way. The
most serious objection to winds as ventilating agents by perflaliou is the uncertainty of
their movement, and the difficulty of its regulation. When the velocity reaches 4 m. it
is found unpleasant by most people, and is, therefore, either excluded, or only admitted
through small openings, when it fails to become properly distributed. For the various
ways in which the pertlative power of the wind has been employed in systems of venti-
lation, we must refer to Ritchie's Treatise on Ventilation, 1862; Toinlinsou's Treatise on
Wartninr/ and Ventilation; and to the chapter on that subject by Dr. Parkes, who gives
a diagram illustrating the mode in which Dr. Aruott has most successfully ventilated the
Field Lane ragged schools. In the ventilation of ships the wind is always used, the air
being directed between decks and into the hold by means of wind-sails or tubes witb
cowls turning toward the wind. A description of Dr. Edmond's plan of ventilation,
which is now commonly used in emigrant-ships, and is being adopted in the royal navy,
is given in a recent article in The Lancet, on "The Medical Aspects of the Abyssinian
Expedition." "In all cases," says Dr. Parkes, "in which the air of a room as in a
basement story or in the hold of a ship, perhaps is likely to be colder than the external
air, and where artificial mea^s of ventilni ion cannot be employed, the wind should be
taken advantage of as motive agent." In artificial ventilation by a fan or screw it is a
question which of the two methods should be employed the' method of extraction, iri
which the air is drawn out of a building or room; or the method of propulsion, in which
air is driven in, so as to force out the air already in the room. Both plans have advo-
cate? of authority. The advantages of the method of propulsion are its certainty and
the e:ise with which the amount may be altered. The stream of air can be taken from
any direction, and can be washed, cooled, or warmed at pleasure. The fan or wheel
commonly used in propulsion is essentially that proposed by Desaguliers in 1734. The
following is the way in which it is applied to one of the largest rooms in this country
St. George's hall, at Liverpool. The air is taken from the basement; is washed by being
drawn through a thin film of water thrown up by a fountain; is passed (in cold weather)
into vessels for the purpose of warming it, in which it can be moistened by a steam-jet,
if the difference of the dry p.nd wet bulb be more than five degrees, and is then pro-
pelled along the channels which distribute it to the hall. In summer it is cooled in the
conduits by the evaporation of water. This system is employed with success in various
hospitals, asylums, etc., in France and America; and during the Crimean war Mr.
Brunei introduced into the hospital of Kenkioi a wheel of Desaguliers' at the entrance
of each ward of 50 beds, which was worked by hand, and could throw 1000 cubic ft. of
air into the ward every minute.

For information regarding the best means of keeping the air of rooms at, the most
fitting temperature 'c mutt refer to the article WARMING. The degree of artificial
warmth that should be given to the air varies according to circumstances. Healthy
adults, who are wel! fed and clothed, usually find any temperature from 50 to 60 com-
fortable; while children and aged persons require a temperature of 65 to 70. In hos-
pitals the proper temperature is usually supposed to be about 60; but in those diseases
in which there is preternatural heat, except possiblj' in scarlatina, a lower temperature
as from 50 to 45, or even 40 is more expedient. In most febrile cases, in the acute
stage, cold air moving over the body is very efficacious as a cooling agent.

The next sanitary element to be considered is WATER. The daily quantity of water
for healthy and sick persons is the first point for consideration. Water is required by
healthy persons (1) for drinking. A man weighing 10 stone will take on nn average from
70 to 90 oz. of water in 24 hours, of which 30 or 40 ox. are taken Imperceptibly in the
solid food, while the remaining 50 or 60 oz. are taken in a liquid form. But the amount
varies extremely. The usual allowance on board ship for both drinking arid cooking is
8 pints per adult daily. (2) For cleansing the person, clothes, and habitations. Dr. Parkes


estimates 4 gallons per head daily as the smallest amount; and if perfect cleanliness is
to be secured, and baths* are taken, at least 16 gallons per head are required. (3) For
teicage an additional 9 gallons must be added. The amount for a water-closet varies
with its construction. At Netley hospital, to which Dr. Parkes is physician, Jei.niugs'a
closets are used, which require 10 gallons per head daih'.

It may be of importance to many of our readers to know that a horse drinks from 8
to 12 gallons daily, and ought to have 3 or 4 more for grooming purposes; a cow or
small ox drinks from 6 to 8 gallons; and a sheep or pi<r from 2 quarts to 1 gallon.

The different sources of water rain-water, rivers, and springs; the chief impurities
in these waters; the methods of detecting them; and the modes of purifying bad water,
are so fully described in the article WATER-SUPPLY, that we have scarcely anything to
addon these points. The organic matters in different waters used for drinking purposes
require, however, a few additional remarks, on account of their extreme importance in a
hygienic point of viev. To the remarks on this subject in pp. 100-lOi of vol. ix., we
may add that their amount varies from 0.3 per gallon to as much as 12 or even 30 grains
per gallon, the purest waters in this respect being thoseifrom granitic, or clay -slate, or
chalk districts. The most common organic matter is derived from the vegetable king-
dom, and consists cf humin and ulmin, and of acids derived from humus; all which
substances are non-nitrogenous, although the acids combine readily with ammonia. This
form of organic matter is far less dangerous than that which has an animal origin,
and contains nitrogen. This organic matter is usually derived from the contents of cess-
pools or sewers percolating into springs. Its exact composition is not known. Fecal
and biliary matters doubtless contribute to the composition of this matter; and in addi-
tion, decomposed flesh, as the refuse of butchers' shops and slaughter-houses substances
from tripe-manufactories and gut-spinners, from size, horn, and isinglass maufaciories,
etc., often contribute to the organic matter of well and spring water. See Parkes
op. cit., p. 12. Most of these substances, in decomporing, produce both nitrous and
Ditric acid and ammonia; and the nitrites and nitrates thus formed unfortunately not
only do not communicate any bad laste or smell to the water, but actually tend hi
many cases to render it especially palatable. The use of water of this kind is liable to
produce diarrhea and choleraic symptoms.

The characters of good drinking-water as laid down after much discussion by various
sanitary congresses are summed up by Dr. Parkes as follows: " It must be transparent,
Colorless, without odor, and tasteless; it should be well aerated (as it then appears to be
more eas. ly absorbed), cool, and pleasant to drink; it must have no deposit; vegetables
should be readily cooked in'it; the total dissolved constituents must be within a certain
amount, which, with some limitation, may be represented by the following numbers:
organic matter should not exceed 1.5 grains per gallon; carbonate of lime, 16 grains;
sulphate of lime, 3 grains; carbonate and sulphate of magnesia, 3 grains; chloride of
sodium, 10 grains; carbonate of soda, 20 grains; sulphate of soda, 6 grains; and iron, 0.5
of a grain."

For details regarding the mode of examining water with the view of ascertaining its
value for drinking purposes, we must refer to any of the leading works on practical mid ana-
lytical chemistry, and an especial reference may be made to prof. Miller's recent memoir
on portable water, and to Dr. Paikes's section on the examination of water. To the sub-
stances named in the article on WATEU-SUPPLY, as purifying water from organic matter,
we may add the following: (1) Permanganate of potaa/i, commonly known as Condy's
fluid, which decomposes organic matter and ammonical compounds by rapid oxidation.
A physician who has had long experience on board Australian emigrant-ships informs
us that he. has often added a small quantity to the water which, when drawn from the
casks, was almost undrinknble, with the effect ef at once rendering it totally inoffensive.
(On this subject, Condy's Air and Water, their Impuritiex and Purification, may be rend
with advantage.) (2) Stryclmo* pofatorum, which is used in India to purify water; the
nut being rubbed on the inside of the casks. (3) Certain vegetables containing tannin, as
tea,-)- kino, .he laurier rose (in Barbary). and bitter almonds (in Egypt).

The consequences of an insufficient and impure supply of water are deserving of the
most serious consideration. The Reports of the Health of Towns Commission (1844 and
1845 1 ) contain much information on the first of the subjects; while the Reports of the
Medical Officer of the Privy Council abound in facts relating to the second subject. We
find that an insufficient supply lends to the person and clothes not being washed at all,

Online LibraryFrancis LieberLibrary of universal knowledge. A reprint of the last (1880) Edinburgh and London edition of Chambers' encyclopaedia, with copious additions by American editors (Volume 13) → online text (page 27 of 203)