Water and Good Sewerage Are Absolute Necessities.
One of the most threatening tendencies of modern times in matters of health is that of overcrowding in cities, and the great element of danger from this overcrowding is not only the insufficiency of air in living rooms and the lack of ready means for its renewal, but the accumulation in this air of infectious germs floating with the dust. Abundant water supply and good sewerage have rendered possible and measurably safe, so far as the ordinary waste of life is concerned, the building of vast tenements which swarm with people. But the means of getting pure air, and especially of disposing of infectious material often floating in it when it is confined, have not at all kept pace with the demands of health and cleanliness.
But when we turn to the larger and more liberally furnished dwellings of the well-to-do classes, we do not find everything reassuring from the stand-point of hygiene, for in some respects the rich are sadly handicapped by the “ tyranny of things.” Of course long and thick piled carpets afford persistent lurking places for infectious as well as other dust. Certainly heavy hangings in a measure hinder the detergent action of the sunlight, shut the used air in and the fresh air out, and shelter floating matter which might otherwise escape. Without doubt complex upholstery with roughened fabrics increases the difficulties in the maintenance of cleanliness. But the usage of the householder in these matters will, after all, depend upon whether his practical devotion be most at Fashion’s or Hygeia’s shrine, and it may not without temerity Ire very urgently criticised. And yet, we well may long for the coming of a time when clean, clear, airy, simply furnished living rooms shall replace the stuffy fabric-strewn apartments in which the fashionable citizen so much delights to-day.
In one particular, however, the devotee to cleanliness may be unreservedly insistent, and that is that in the cleaning of living-rooms, whether occupied by the sick or the well, the distinct and recognized purpose of the operation shall be to remove, and not simply to stir up the ever-gathering dust. The past few years, so beneficially signalized by the exploitation of the new germ lore, have seen marked departures from the traditional sweepings and dustings of the past era ; and the emancipation of the housekeeper, and incidentally of the household, from the thrall of the pestiferous feather duster seems fairly under way. Still, some of the old barbarous travesties upon cleaning widely persist. The dry broom still seeks out in the deep recesses of the carpets not the coarser particles of dirt alone, but the hordes of living germs which were for the time safely ensconed ; and among these what malignant forms the chances of the day may have mingled ! These are all set awhirl in the air ; some gather on salient points of the fittings and furnishings ; many stay with the operator, to vex for hours the delicate breathing passages or the deeper recesses of the lungs. Then in the lull which following gravity reasserts its sway, and the myriad particles, both the living and the dead, slowly settle to the horizontal surfaces, especially to the carpets. Then the feather duster comes upon the scene, and another cyclone befalls. The result of it all is that the dust has finally been forced to more or less completely abandon the smooth and shining surfaces where it would be visible, and is largely caught in the surface roughnesses of the carpets or upholstery or hangings, ready at the lightest footfall or the chariest touch to dance into the air again, and be taken into the lungs of the victims of the prevailing delusion—the delusion that the way to care for always noxious and offensive and often dangerous dust is not to get it out of the house, but to keep it stirring in the air until at last it has settled where it does not vex the eye.