Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/385

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379
STUFFY ROOMS

Mr. Robert Milne informs me that of the thousands of children which have passed through Barnardo's Homes—there are 9,000 in the homes at any one time—not one after entering the institution and passing under its regimen and the care of his father, Dr. Milne, has developed appendicitis. Daily exercise and play, adequate rest, a regular simple diet have ensured their immunity from this infection. It pays to keep a horse healthy and efficient; it no less pays to keep men healthy. I recently investigated the case of clerks employed in a great place of business, whose working hours are from 9 to 6 on three days, and 7 to 9 on the other three days of each week, and, working such overtime, they make £1 to £2 a week; these clerks worked in a confined space—forty to fifty of them in 8,200 cubic feet, lit with thirty electric lamps, cramped for room, and overheated in warm summer days. It is not with the chemical purity of the air of such an office that fault is to be found, for fans and large openings ensured this sufficiently. These clerks suffered from their long hours of monotonous and sedentary occupation, and from the artificial light, and the windless, overwarm and moist atmosphere. Many a girl cashier has worked from 8 to 8:30, and on Saturdays from 8 to 10, and then has had to balance her books and leave perhaps after midnight on Sunday morning. Her office is away in the background—confined, windless, artificially lit. The Shops Act has given a little relief from these hours. What, I ask, is the use of the state spending a million a year on sanatoria and tuberculin dispensaries, when those very conditions of work continue which lessen the immunity and increase the infection of the workers?

The jute industry in this town of Dundee is carried out almost wholly by female and boy labor. "The average wages for women are below 12s. in eight processes and above 12s., but under 18s., for the remaining five processes." The infant mortality has been over 170 per 1,000. The Social Union of Dundee reported in 1905 that of 885 children born to 240 working mothers no fewer than 520, or 59 per cent., died—and almost all of them were under five years of age. The life of these mothers was divided between the jute factory and the one-roomed tenement. Looking such conditions squarely in the face, I say it would be more humane for the state to legalize the exposure of every other new-born infant on the hillside rather than allow children to be slowly done to death. The conditions as given in the report contravene those rights of motherhood which the meanest wild animal can claim.

Isolation hospitals, sputum-pots and anti-spitting regulations will not stamp out tuberculosis. Such means are like shutting the door of the stable when the horse has escaped. Flügge has shown that tubercle bacilli are spread by the droplets of saliva which are carried