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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/700

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

a block of ice. But the typhoid-fever germ can be present in water, so far as we know, only when it is contaminated with refuse from persons suffering from the disease; so that, if we can be certain that our ice was cut from water uncontaminated with sewage or human waste, we have nothing to fear from its use so far as this disease is concerned. All of the pond and lake ice supplied to New York is of fairly good, and most of it of excellent quality; and no doubt the danger of contracting typhoid fever from the use of the larger part of the Hudson River ice is quite remote. But a considerable quantity of the Hudson River ice is cut just below Albany, where the stream is so greatly contaminated with the sewage of two large towns, Troy and Albany, as to be absolutely filthy. In both of these towns typhoid fever is of frequent occurrence during the period in which ice is forming, and the waste from the victims passes directly into the river. There would, therefore, seem to be a very real danger in the use of some of the Hudson River ice.

The responses which one commonly meets when he has occasion to point out the possibility of danger from the use of impure ice are apt to be, "How horrid! Why do you add another misery to life?" or "Our fathers have never suffered from the use of ice, and why should we?" etc. No sanitary danger has ever been pointed out, and no improvement instituted, which had not to stem just such opposition. The cesspool has given way to the sewer, and the well to the distant water-supply, in the face of the same sort of silly protest on the part of many of those whose own most vital interests were at stake—persons who ignore the fact that an ever-increasing vigilance is necessary to ward off the dangers which the aggregation of large numbers of people in cities invariably entails. The danger from the use of impure ice in New York, though wide-spread, is not very alarming, so far as the liability to extensive outbreaks of typhoid fever are concerned, because most of the ice which is furnished appears to be of fair quality. But if the risk of an attack of the disease can be warded off from one in ten thousand of our fellows, the gain is worth the effort. We do not need to be unduly squeamish, but it is well enough to be intelligent in the face of sanitary dangers. The ice companies, unless controlled by the State Health Department, will doubtless continue to cut and to furnish sewage ice along with the rest just as long as their customers will tolerate it. But if householders would insist upon the assurance that their ice should not come from the immediate vicinity of Albany, or from directly below other towns draining into the river, the companies would soon recognize that acquiescence in this reasonable demand is the wiser and more profitable course.

We are a long-suffering people here in New York, and, if our common manifestations of patience were commendable instead of contemptible, we should be deserving of monumental record. We are, it is true, saved in a measure from swill-milk, bob-veal, and numerous