Houses of ill health.
--There is one way to make homes unhealthy which has often been criticised by our medical officers of health, and which still demands all their vigilance to prevent.
It forms a regular part of building operations in many localities around London
You may ventilate a house and drain the street; supply plenty of light, air, and fresh water; but there may still be a source of disease in your house which may elude discovery, and, if discovered, defy remedy.
It is literally bound up in the composition of the road, and forms part of the fabric of the house wall.
A Scottish registrar lately noticed that the increase of fever and zymotic disease in his district was chiefly confined to a street of newly-built and somewhat superior houses — Some surgeons have, from time to time, made the like observation in the suburbs of London
If the composition of the roadway be observed, and the air of the basement tested, the cause may be partly guessed.
It is not unusual, in making these roadways, to cast into the chasm to be filled every kind of refuse, including animal and vegetable debris
of the most unsavory character; and this being packed together on a level with the basements, all emanations from the mass steal through the lower part of the house and ascend to the upper rooms.
A surgeon in the southern suburb communicated to us a case in which the members of a numerous family were successively attacked by zymotic disease — in two instances fatal, and repeatedly renewed, until removal from a house so poisoned.
Dr. Dundas Thompson
, in his weekly report, draws attention to a cognate defect in the hygienics of masonry which deserves to be duly noted: ‘"My attention has frequently been called to, I trust, an almost obsolete practice indulged in by some builders of mixing up putrid slop from the streets with their mortar, instead of using sand, which has a chemical relation to the lime.
A case of this kind having been reported to me by the inspectors at Hamilton Terrace, I found the slop used to consist of putrid organic matter, 8.77; water, 36.6; and of inorganic matter, 54.18.
Being of opinion that the use of such a mixture in the plastering the interior of a house is not likely to be promotive of health, while it undoubtedly produces an inferior binding material, I requested the builder and the architect to discontinue its use, but not in time to prevent the fall of an arch, and the injury of three men engaged in the construction of the building."’ --The Lancet.