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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/457

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THE SUMMER HEAT OF CITIES.

the temperature of the place is raised, as happens almost daily in the summer months in cities.

From the preceding facts we may conclude that, as long as the body continues in health, the "heat-regulating power," which constantly tends to preserve an equilibrium of temperature, is capable of resisting the ordinary agencies that, operating externally or internally, exaggerate the heat-producing conditions, and thus destroy the individual. But if the person is suffering from a disease which weakens the "heat-regulating power" these deleterious agencies, which the healthy person may resist, will readily overpower the already quite exhausted heat-regulating forces, and he perishes by combustion. It is very evident that in an organism having complicated functions, like that of man, and subject to such a multitude of adverse influences, the balance between health and disease must be very nicely adjusted. Too great an elevation or too great a depression of temperature may destroy the "heat-regulating power," and disease or death will be the consequence. Or this "heat-regulating power" may be weakened or destroyed by causes generated within the body, or received from without, and the heat-producing agencies are then under influences which may prove to be powerfully destructive forces.

It will not now be difficult to understand in what manner high temperature affects the public health of large cities. Evidently in the direct action of heat upon the human body we have the most powerful agency in the production of our great summer mortality. While sunstroke represents the maximum direct effect of solar heat upon the human subject, the large increase of deaths from wasting chronic diseases and diarrhœal affections., of children under one year of age and persons upward of seventy years of age, shows the terrible effects of the prevailing intense heat of summer upon all who are debilitated by disease or age and thereby have their "heat-regulating power" diminished. The fact has been established by repeated experiment that when solar or artificial heat is continually applied to the animal the temperature of its body will gradually rise until all of the compensating or heat-regulating agencies fail to preserve the equilibrium, and the temperature reaches a point at which death takes place from actual combustion. In general, a temperature of 107° F. in man would be regarded as indicating an unfavorable termination of any disease. In persons suffering from sunstroke the temperature often ranges from 106° F. to 110° F., the higher temperature appearing just before a fatal termination.

The indirect effects of heat appear in the production of poisonous gases which vitiate the air and render it more or less prejudicial to health. Decomposition of all forms of refuse animal and