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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/596

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

science"; but, since we have ascertained that out-door exercise is more important than all the graphics and ologies of the Académie Française, it has been found that, with a well-arranged plan of instruction ten months a year, five days a week and six hours a day are quite enough for any school. If the eight-hour system were generally adopted, operatives would not be compelled to live within ear-shot of the factory-whistle, and in very large cities the daily influx and reflux of a suburban multitude would enable railroad companies to carry individuals at rates which the poorest would call moderate. Far enough from the city center to evade the region of dear building-lots, and yet within easy reach of all kinds of door and sash factories and planing-mills, there would be no need of crowding three generations into a single room, and suffocating them with mingled kitchen-fumes and sick-bed odors. Three rooms and an out-house should be the minimum for a family with children.

In a tolerable location, the air of a three-room cottage can be kept pure enough without force ventilators or any other expensive contrivance. Open your windows; in very cold weather, air the bedrooms in daytime and the others at night. In larger houses, the kitchen, parlor, and dining-room should be thoroughly ventilated every night, also in daytime at convenient intervals, during the temporary absence of the occupants. To save foul air for the sake of its warmth is poor economy; experiments would show that the difference in fuel amounts only to a trifle, anyhow. Ten or twelve pounds of coal a day ought not to weigh against the direct gain in comfort and the prospective, unspeakable gain in health. Breathing the same air over and over again means to feed the organism on the excretions of our own lungs, on air surcharged with noxious gases and almost depleted of the life-sustaining principle. Azotized air affects the lungs as the substitution of excrements for nourishing food would affect our digestive organs: corruption sets in; pulmonary phthisis is, in fact, a process of putrefaction.

No ventilatory contrivance can compare with the simple plan of opening a window; in wet nights a "rain-shutter" (a blind with large, overlapping bars) will keep a room both airy and dry. In every bedroom, one of the upper windows should be kept open night and day, except in storms, accompanied with rain or with a degree of cold exceeding 10° Fahr. In warm summer nights open every window in the house and every door connecting the bedroom with the adjoining apartments. Create a thorough draught. Before we can hope to fight consumption with any chance of success, we have to get rid of the night-air superstition. Like the dread of cold water, raw fruit, etc., it is founded on that mistrust of our instincts which we owe to our anti-natural religion. It is probably the most prolific single cause of impaired health, even among the civilized nations of our enlightened age, though its absurdity rivals the grossest delusions of the witchcraft era. The subjection of holy reason to hearsays could hardly go further.