Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/394

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is kept below 2 to 3 per cent, they are capable of carrying out efficient work. In the case of workers in compressed air it is important to bear in mind that the effect of the on the breathing depends on the partial pressure and not on the percentage of this gas in the air breathed.

By a series of observations made on rats confined in cages fitted with small, ill-ventilated sleeping chambers, we have found that the temperature and humidity of the air—not the percentage of carbon dioxide or oxygen—determines whether the animals stay inside the sleeping room or come outside. When the air is cold, they like to stay inside, even when the carbon dioxide rises to 4 to 5 per cent, of an atmosphere. When the sleeping chamber is made too hot and moist they come outside.

The sanitarian says it is necessary to keep the below 0.01 per cent., so that the organic poisons may not collect to a harmful extent. The evil smell of crowded rooms is accepted as unequivocal evidence of the existence of such. He pays much attention to this and little or none to the heat and moisture of the air. The smell arises from the secretions of the skin, soiled clothes, etc. The smell is only sensed by and excites disgust in one who comes to it from the outside air. He who is inside and helps to make the "fugg" is both wholly unaware of and unaffected by it. Flügge points out, with justice, that while we naturally avoid any smell that excites disgust and puts us off our appetite, yet the offensive quality of the smell does not prove its poisonous nature. For the smell of the trade or food of one man may be horrible and loathsome to another not used to such.

The sight of a slaughterer and the smell of dead meat may be loathly to the sensitive poet, but the slaughterer is none the less healthy. The clang and jar of an engineer's workshop may be unendurable to a highly strung artist or author, but the artificers miss the stoppage of the noisy clatter. The stench of glue-works, fried-fish shops, soap and bone-manure works, middens, sewers, become as nothing to those engaged in such, and the lives of the workers are in no wise shortened by the stench they endure. The nose ceases to respond to the uniformity of the impulse, and the stench clearly does not betoken in any of these cases the existence of a chemical organic poison. On descending into a sewer, after the first ten minutes the nose ceases to smell the stench; the air therein is usually found to be far freer from bacteria than the air in a school-room or tenement.

If we turn to foodstuffs we recognize that the smell of alcohol and of Stilton or Camembert cheese is horrible to a child, while the smell of putrid fish—the meal of the Siberian native—excites no less disgust in an epicure, who welcomes the cheese. Among the hardiest and healthiest of men are the North Sea fishermen, who sleep in the cabins