London's Pulse: Medical Officer of Health reports 1848-1972

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Finsbury 1959

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Finsbury Borough]

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Fumes from Vehicles on the Highway:
Many persons have been concerned in recent years with the
emission of black and oily fumes from vehicles on the roads, such
emissions being observed by no means infrequently.
It is nearly always due either to lack of maintenance, defects
or maladjustments in the engine, or to wilful interference by the
drivers of the setting(even when this is sealed to prevent it
being tampered with), in order to allow the vehicles to acquire a
quicker rate of acceleration, especially when going up hill, for
it is at such times when the load on the engine is greatest, and
the engine defective, that the emission is most likely to occur.
These fumes are both filthy and oily, very unpleasant and a
nuisance, and at times even a danger as they may obscure vision.
It is also possible, though admittedly not proven, that they are
by nature cancer producing. Although the nuisance in Finsbury is
probably not as great as in some other areas, as we have no long
steep hills in the Borough, yet because considerable nuisances
have been reported, we asked the Public Health Inspectors in
December 1957, to make a note of the registration number, and when
possible the name and address of the owner of every vehicle seen
to be discharging noisome fumes. When the name of the owner was
not known. I was able to obtain this through the co-operation of
the Motor Taxation Officer of the appropriate authority.
When these reports were presented to me I wrote a friendly
letter to the owner calling his attention to the occurrence and
asking for his co-operation to prevent a continuance of it.
In all, 36 such instances were reported to me.
It would seem to me that the procedure adopted which I got
from a town in the north of England, has been useful, though of
course in Pinsbury such action cannot make more than a minute
contribution to the solution. It would seem that it served a
useful purpose in most cases, and that owners of vehicles are, on
the whole, co-operative, and anxious to avoid the creation of
nuisances and glad to have information from a reliable source of
the condition of their vehicles, or conduct of their drivers, as
the case may be, of which they themselves may be unaware.
Verminouse Premises and Articles:
The Disinfestation service provides for the destruction of
all insects and pests including bugs, fleas, cockroaches, beetles
and moths.