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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/329

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HOUSE-DRAINAGE.

interior of the body through a wound of any kind; although they may be inhaled or swallowed with comparative impunity. These are especially dangerous to new-born infants and to lying-in women, as well as to wounded persons. From my personal experience I should say that the forms of disease most frequently produced by sewer and soil-pipe air with its contained bacteria are slight inflammations of the throat, tonsillitis, and mild diarrhœal troubles.

It will be seen, therefore, that while attempts to scare people by depicting the horrors of sewer-gas, etc., in order to prevent the construction of sewers, to promote the sale of certain fixtures, or to improve the house-inspection business are not justifiable, it is certainly true that, upon ordinary insurance principles, it is wise to prevent as far as possible the entrance of sewer and soil-pipe air into dwelling-houses, offices, hospitals, and public buildings; and that a municipality is justified in taking measures to secure such prevention for those who are too ignorant, too indifferent, or too helpless to do it for themselves.

To provide, in an ordinary dwelling-house, a system of pipes and fixtures though which will quickly pass away all excreta and water rendered foul by use in closets, sinks, wash-basins, baths, etc., while the passage of gases and odors from the pipes into the house is prevented, and liability to obstruction of the pipes is as small as possible, is not now a very difficult matter under ordinary circumstances.

The differences of opinion as to the best modes of doing this, which are found in the writings of sanitarians, sanitary engineers, plumbers, etc., and which appear so confusing to one who is not familiar with the subject, are largely due to the fact that the different writers and speakers consider the matter from very different points of view; and it may be well, therefore, to refer to some of these which have the greatest influence in determining opinions.

The first point of view to be considered is that of the man who proposes to build a house for his own family, and who wants to know how he can secure, at a reasonable cost, a convenient and safe system for the removal of excreta and wastes.

If he employs an architect to prepare the plans and specifications for his house, the first suggestion would naturally be that the same architect should prepare the plans and specifications for the plumbing. It is, however, asserted by sanitary inspectors, physicians, plumbers, and popular writers, that architects do not, as a rule, furnish proper plans and specifications for house-drainage; that many of them are not competent to do it, and the rest will not take the trouble; and that to make sure of good results an expert in this particular line must be called in.