Page images
PDF
EPUB

of deformities in children. By all means, therefore, secure as much light in your dwelling as you can get.

Another point to be regarded with respect to the situation, and especially with regard to the aspect of a house, is its relation to the surrounding country. Not only must the site itself of the house be well drained, but the country near must be healthy in its character, and this condition depends not only upon its climate, its temperature, the dryness or moisture of the air, but upon the presence or absence of vegetation, the neighbourhood of trees and forests, and the like.

2. Drainage.—The influence of drainage is very great. The Hospital at Cambridge, fifty years ago, was never without its cases of ague ;

but when I first went there, in 1853, we hardly ever saw a case, and this freedom from the disease was entirely due to the more perfect drainage of the Fen country. Even an elevated site is not always free from danger in this regard.

Captain Galton, in his work on “Healthy Dwellings,” gives two instances of this fact. Thus, “in order to provide a healthy station at Jamaica, an elevated site from 3,500 to 4,000 feet above the sealevel, at a place called New Castle, was selected for barracks. It was situated on the crest of a spur of land falling rapidly from the blue mountains southwards towards the deep damp valleys and ravines, filled with tropical vegetation, which connect the range with the lower country. The sides of the ridge sloped down at angles 40° and 50°. The surface was clay mixed with vegetable matter. The ridge was so narrow that the huts were placed on terraces cut out of the slopes of the hill, with but a few feet of space between the back of the hut and the soil supporting the terrace above. Even in temperate climates such a position contributes to fever. The result was that in the yellow fever epidemics in 1856 and 1867, those huts which were so placed that the malaria blowing up the valley must necessarily strike them, yielded a large percentage of yellow fever even at this high elevation.

“Again, Bona, in Algeria, stands on a hill overlooking the sea; a plain of a deep rich vegetable soil extends southward from it, but little raised above the sea-level. The plain receives not only the rainfall which falls on its surface, but the water from adjacent mountains, and is consequently saturated with wet. tion living on it and near it suffered intensely from fever; entire regiments were destroyed by death and inefficiency. It was at

The popula

last determined to drain the plain. The result of this work was an immediate reduction of the sick and death rate.

“But some time after this the drains were left to atmospheric influences; they became partially obstructed and irregular, and did not allow the water to reach the outfall; the result was a violent outbreak of fever at Boná, attended with great loss of life, both civil and military. An enquiry took place, the drainage was rectified, and since then Boná has been healthy.”

Very often land is water-soaked, and consequently unhealthy simply on account of the impervious nature of the underlying ground. By breaking through this so as to afford an outlet, a settling of the imprisoned water into the looser soil below gradually takes place, and the causes which render the soil above unfit for cultivation, and deleterious to health, are removed. The following is an interesting instance of this action.*

“ A recent letter from Rome says the monks of La Trappe have lately discovered the means of making the vast Roman Campagna healthy, a work that has baffled all the governments from Romulus to Victor Emanuel or King Umberto.” The evil effects of malaria in this region are well known. “The soil of the Campagna has but little depth ; under it lies a stratum of tufa, in some places two métres (over two yards) in depth, Under this tufa is other volcanic material equally hurtful to vegetation. Thus there is no subsoil, and no chance for circulation of water and air. When the heavy rains fall the water rests on the tufa, and generates unhealthy mists. When the droughts come the soil is baked to ashes.

“The wise, good, industrious Trappists began to improve that very unhealthy land of the Three Fountains, first with Eucalyptus raising, and made the place comparatively healthy. Lately they have tried, with success, a most remarkable experiment. They have bored the tufa, at different distances, a métre and a half deep; in these holes they have placed dynamite, and by electric conductors have exploded the volcanic strata. A dull rumbling is heard, a little elevation of the ground is seen, in some places the earth is thrown out a short distance. In eight days' time they found a subsoil for a large space of ground, and made it both susceptible to culture and healthy.

“ Thus these simple, busy Fathers of La Trappe have done the useful work that lay before them, and have solved a problem as old as Euclid, and hitherto as fatal as the Sphynx. Their silent labours will give health to future generations, and cover with luxuriant fields of grain the vast Agro Romano.”

*“Hygiene." By Dr. Buck Vol. i., p. 423.

3. Exposure.-Another point of not less importance to health is the free circulation of air around a dwelling. The following story told by Galton both shows this fact and the necessity for drainage. “Fig. I shows the slope of the ground falling towards the plain of Balaclava. The foundations are rock below and above, traversed by a belt of clay and shale. The 79th Highlanders were placed on the clay, and as the material was soft, their huts were placed on terraces cut out of

42nd no fere

79! ferer

LRO

ctay in

ósk 51 FIG. I. Huts on Hillside at Balaclava. the hillside, and were thus embedded in the ground, and the floors consequently were always damp. There was no roof ventilation. This regiment had half the men down with fever. The 42nd Highlanders were placed on the rock, and as it was hard they did not cut into the rock, but preferred building their huts on projecting terraces, so that they were quite dry, and air circulated freely around. This regiment did not suffer from fever. The huts on the clay were subsequently altered (Fig. 2) so as to allow free circulation of air. Drainage and roof ventilation were provided as here shown, and fever no longer prevailed."

4. Subsoil.—When we come to questions about the healthiness of the site itself, we find that there are still many points to be considered. The structure and composition of the underlying geological strata are of some importance, but not quite so much as some persons suppose. When we examine the data given by Dr. Parkes (“Hygiene,” 5th ed., p. 337) on this head, we find that there are very few positively unhealthy grounds, if they are natural and not artifically laid down, or polluted from some external source. Thus

Fig. 2. 79th. Hut on Hillside, as altered.

all the following are marked as healthy: granitic, metamorphic, and trap rocks, clay-slate, limestone, and magnesian limestones, except in the neighbourhood of marshes; chalk, sandstones, and gravels.

There are both healthy and unhealthy sands, and clays, dense marls, and alluvial soils are always to be regarded with suspicion.

[blocks in formation]

Fig.

3

shows the nature of healthy and unhealthy sites respectively.

Well-cultivated soils are often quite healthy, but irrigated lands are usually hurtful. But the ground in the neighbourhood of towns is not by any means usually left as nature made it. There are large tracts of land that have been levelled down and others

raised, hollows filled up with any kind of rubbish that came handy.

Some of these are pits out of which brick-clay has been dug, or low-lying, swampy ground that had to put on an appearance of dryness; such places then are made into tips for all kinds of rubbish, brick-bats, cinders, the material dug out of other foundations, and not unfrequently much less innocent substances than these, the contents of ashpits, and road-scrapings, containing both vegetable and animal refuse.

Much of this material, therefore, is in a state of putrefaction, and it has been found by experiment that the organic putrefiable substances do not entirely disappear even in three years' time from their first being laid down.

Such ground as this is the very worst upon which houses could be built, and yet it is very common in the suburbs of all towns, and is often the subject of alluring advertisements of " eligible sites for building.” It was in consequence of a report by Drs. Parkes and Sanderson, on the sanitary condition of Liverpool, that the Local Government Board included the following clause in their model bye-laws respecting new streets and buildings:

9. A person who shall erect a new building shall not construct any foundation of such building upon any site which shall have been filled up with any material impregnated with focal matter, or impregnated with any animal or vegetable matter, or upon which any such matter may have been deposited, unless and until such matter shall have been properly removed, by excavation or otherwise, from such site."

Many other towns have adopted this and other salutary clauses in their bye-laws, but I am sorry to say that they are as yet wanting in the building bye-laws of this great city.

Numerous complaints have been made respecting the nuisance to health due to the emanations from made ground in the neighbourhood of dwellings, and several cases of sickness have been traced to this cause, but so far the applications for redress of the evil made by our own Sanitary Association, and by the Society of Architects in the city, have met with no adequate response.

Dr. Mapother, of Dublin, has also shown the evil that arises from building dwellings on the sites of old watercourses, or pools imperfectly drained. * He has proved by figures that in the

* “Public Health,” p. 367

« EelmineJätka »