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Several short articles/links on Sanitation
THE TRUE Protection
against Small-Pox
A Paper read before the Second International Congress of Anti-Vaccinators

Index: More articles on Smallpox

Sanitation Vs. Vaccination - The Origin of Smallpox & causes.

Some Facts to preface quotes on Sanitation:

... By advocating safer, alternative treatments, people's health and welfare will only improve. If we examine orthodox treatments we will find that up to 20% of admissions to hospitals are caused by iatrogenesis, that is, doctor induced problems. Most orthodox treatments have not been proven scientifically. Prof. J. Garrow was quoted in the Australian Doctor's Weekly (28 June 91) as saying that 65% of conventional medical treatment was not proven. The U.S. Congress publication, "Assessing the efficacy and safety of medical technologies" (1978) quoted 80% to 90% as being unproved. When there were doctor's strikes in the U.S., Israel and Colombia, death rates fell. A study by J. and S. McKinlay of Boston University, concluded that only up to 3.5% of the decline in disease was due to medical measures. I think that the medical establishment has over-estimated its usefulness... (end of quote?)
Read rest of article at Peter Baratosy MD
Following article taken from:
A Brief History Of Cleaning

Today, we know that sanitation makes a tremendous contribution to preventing disease and keeping people healthy.

But is wasn't always that way. Throughout most of our history, sanitation practices were practically nonexistent. Yet the history of sanitation dates back at least 7.000 years, to the Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.

The Babylonians discovered that contaminated water could cause disease. They brought in fresh water every day.

The physician Hippocrates discovered that cleansing could prevent infection.

Made great progress in the area of sanitation. Built aqueducts to bring in fresh water, and built sewer systems and public baths. However, with the fall of the Roman Empire, much of the knowledge the Romans developed was lost, and was not passed on.

Were truly the Dark Ages as far as sanitation was concerned. Towns were dirty and crowded, and disease and epidemics spread unchecked because of the lack of sanitation.
Water was contaminated, and personal hygiene was virtually unknown.
Tuberculosis, cholera, diphtheria, smallpox, yellow fever, all were rampant.
As many children died as lived, and the average life span was under 30 years. The worst epidemic during this period was the Black Death, from 1438-1441, which spread to such proportions that 60 million people died, which at the time was one-fourth the population of the world.

In New York City, living conditions were as nearly as filthy as in the middle ages, and yearly epidemics swept through populations, killing many.
The average life span was less than age 40.
But during the mid 1800's, it was discovered between germs and disease was proven. Soaps, disinfectants, and pharmaceuticals began to be developed, and it was first recognized that disease could be controlled.
This began the Sanitation Revolution, and public health practices such as garbage collection, water treatment, public health departments and regulations, as well as personal bathing, became part of the culture.
The death rate in children dropped, and the average life span increased over the years, to age 74.

Originally this article was probably found at:

Paris: Urban Sanitation Before the 20th Century

A History of Invisible Infrastructure

by Frederique Krupa

Built on the ruins of the Roman city of Lutecia, Paris was officially founded in 360 AD. Its evolution was defined by a succession of fortified walls that surrounded its ever expanding territory well into the 19th Century.

Since ancient times, the basic rule for dealing with Parisian garbage was "tout-a-la-rue" -- all in the street -- including household waste, urine, feces and even fetuses. Larger items were frequently thrown into "no-man's-land" over the city wall or into the Seine. Feces, however, was often collected to be used as fertilizer. Parisian dirt streets easily assimilated the refuse thanks to frequent rain and heavy pedestrian and cart traffic. The edible muck was often consumed by pigs and wild dogs, and the rest was consumed by microorganisms. The smell of the rotting matter was terrible but by no means the only contribution to the odors found in Paris.

The history of waste treatment in Paris was not unlike those of other major industrialized cities. Response to the accumulation of refuse generally occurs when problems become too urgent to ignore. Paris's enormous production of urban refuse household and manufacturing garbage, human and animal excrements, human corpses and animal carcasses - produced gradual solutions in the form of cesspools, gutters, waterworks, sewers, street cleaning ordinances, fountains, garbage collection, dumps, bathhouses, bathrooms, street urinals, sewerage farming, composting, mass graves, cemeteries and catacombs, intertwined and influenced by the political and philosophical ideas of the times. This site will tackle four waste management topics -- sanitation, sewerage, garbage and corpses -- in chronological order starting with the medieval times and ending with the end of the 19th century, when most of the current waste management methods were implemented.

BBC History - Society - Sex, lice and chamber pots in Pepys' ...

Source of following quote:
BBC History - Society - Sex, lice and chamber pots in Pepys' ...

Background information

London had had sewers for centuries but they only carried surface water. Excrement went into the cesspit under the house or in the garden, and was - in theory - regularly emptied. There was a system for rubbish collection, but somehow there were always dead dogs and cats, and food refuse, and an overwhelming amount of animal faeces in the streets.

Water had to be bought from watercarriers unless you were so poor that you collected your own from the river or one of the few public wells, or so rich that you subscribed to a private water company such as the New River. Their mains were made of elm trunks, and the domestic supply pipes were lead. The supply ran only a few hours at a time, so you had to store your water in lead tanks. No wonder it tasted foul, but it sufficed for boiling meat, and for very limited personal ablutions (Samuel Pepys was sure he caught a cold by washing his feet). Household washing used lyre made from ashes and urine.

History of Public Toilets

Following quotes taken from: (see original page for more)
History of Public Toilets

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it - even if I have said it - unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense."
- The Buddha

"There is no question that our health has improved spectacularly in the past century. One thing seems certain: it did not happen because of medicine, or medical science, or even the presence of doctors. "Much of the credit should go to the plumbers and engineers of the western world. The contamination of drinking water by human feces was at one time the greatest cause of human disease and death for us...(but) when the plumbers and sanitary engineers had done their work in the construction of our cities, these diseases began to vanish. "

- Lewis Thomas (medical researcher and essayist)

"What the world's poorest one billion need more than doctors, good roads, the Internet and even electricity, is quality drinking water and safe sewage disposal. Society is nothing without good plumbing."
- Vic - our founder 2001

"An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing just because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy.
Neither its pipes nor its philosophy will hold water."
- John William Gardner

Interesting History, or why did they get sick?

[My apologies to the author of this peice. This was taken from a forwarded email which did not contain the author's name.]
Know the authors name: Click here to Email us:

Interesting History

Next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be....Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children-last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it-hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs -- thick straw -- piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof -- hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they kept adding more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway -- hence, a "thresh hold."

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while -- hence the rhyme, "peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with a high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous. Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often trenchers were made from stale bread which was so old and hard that they could be used for quite some time. Trenchers were never washed and a lot of times worms and mold got into the wood and old bread. After eating off wormy, moldy trenchers, one would get "trench mouth."

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "uppercrust."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up -- hence the custom of holding a "wake."

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they thought they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."

And that's the truth...(and whoever said that History was boring?)

Nittany Inspirations
Life in the 1500s
Includes the above facts and others

History of sanitation and Chicago