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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/35

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THE SANITATION OF AIR

Mechanical or forced ventilation finds application where the number of people, excess of heat, or other conditions creating unwholesome atmosphere, can not be overcome by any other method. Theaters and crowded assembly halls, class rooms, hospitals, certain laboratories and workshops, hotel kitchens, public smoking and toilet rooms, generally need a rapid renewal of air. The ventilation of such places should be positive, that is, it should not be dependent to any extent upon weather or temporarily favorable conditions. Of course, when subject to spontaneous ventilation, such rooms will require less of the artificial kind. Indeed, it is important always to utilize the natural means at hand, and to omit none of the preventive measures that may help to relieve the situation. Buildings should be designed with due regard to airing and to avoid, if possible, the necessity for a mechanical system. The latter should always be considered as a sort of emergency device and reduced to the utmost simplicity consistent with the need. Of course, simplicity must not be secured at the expense of quality or efficiency. The latter depends mostly upon the purity, perfect distribution and the control over the temperature of the air supply. Moderate volumes, well applied, are better and more economical than large quantities indifferently, indiscriminately, almost criminally introduced. When designed and equipped on the right principles, buildings will be less dependent upon the uncertainties of complex machinery, incompetence or indifference of operators, parsimoniousness of owners, and all those contigencies which so often have turned a well-intentioned, but too complicated, apparatus into a dead letter, a lot of junk, or even a nuisance and a menace to health, instead of a means of relief. The undesirability of mechanical devices increases rapidly with their complexity and age. Deterioration is bound to set in. The simplest means to accomplish the end is not only the most economical, but it is the best guarantee for successful operation in the long run.

Building Reform.—The extreme utilization of space which is the common tendency in much of our urban architecture has passed the sanitary danger line. There are too many investors, or speculators, who do not care whether a structure is fit for habitation. Unfortunately, architects do not always realize the meaning of the demands put upon them, and that those exaggerated proportions, growing out of the fight for light and air, will make sanitation more difficult and are unfair to the neighbor. When building on a plot of ground, any adjoining property should be given an equal chance for vertical expansion, giving leave to any one to do unto you the same, with profit. Some of the flagrant encroachments lately seen upon other men's right to nature's freedom have really been nothing short of criminal. The limitation of the sky scraper is really but a question of fair dealing with one's neighbor.