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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 87.djvu/248

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

FOUR POINTS IN THE INDICTMENT OF THE SMOKE NUISANCE
By JOHN O'CONNOR, JR.

MELLON INSTITUTE OF INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

IN all papers and talks concerning the smoke nuisance, it has become customary to refer to the economic cost of the nuisance both to the public and to the smoke makers. This is the indictment which is supposed to strike home. When a speaker on this subject says

The abolition of the smoke nuisance, unlike many other social nuisances against which outcry has been, would result in direct and immediate gain both to the public at large and to those who are chiefly responsible for the nuisance itself,

he feels that he has said the last word.

There are other points in the indictment of the smoke nuisance to which attention may more properly be directed. It is the purpose of this paper to tell of the present knowledge on four of these points, namely:

1. The effect on building materials.
2. The effect on meteorological conditions.
3. The effect on vegetation.
4. The effect on health.

There has been much talk within the last few years concerning city planning. The principal idea that city planning seems to convey to most people is a beautiful and costly square, set in the center of an ugly city. All real city planning should have as one of its main objects the purification of the atmosphere. Some forty years ago, John Ruskin, speaking to the Society of British Architects, said:

All lovely architecture was designed for cities in cloudless air. . . . But our cities, built in black air, which, by its accumulated foulness, first renders all the ornament invisible in distance, and then chokes its interstices with soot; . . . for cities such as these, no architecture is possible.

An architect in a smoky city is forced to take atmospheric conditions into account. Drain pipes must be arranged with great care—that there may result no splashing of the soot-carrying water to discolor the sides of the building. Mouldings must be so designed that the rain will not wash over the face that soot which collects on top of the mouldings. Drips must be provided on all projections. Under-cutting, delicacy of incised line and sharpness of angular forms must be foregone, for the soot deposited will, in time, fill up the crevices and mar the