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

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Strand (Westminster) 1898

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Strand District, London]

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accommodation for persons to stay there overnight, but with the spray
method they could return to their rooms almost immediately after the
rooms have been sprayed, and bedding, &c., which had been taken
away for treatment in your Board's steam apparatus, can be returned
within a couple of hours. As many persons, instead of availing
themselves of the accommodation provided for them, prefer to stay
with friends during the time their rooms are being fumigated,
and thereby doubtless convey infection to them, the adoption of the
process suggested will considerably reduce this risk. A room where
persons may remain for an hour or two is all that the Board need
I am, Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,
October 4th, 1898.
P.S.—Since writing the foregoing I have had the opportunity of
reading an exhaustive report by Drs. Park and Guerard of the New
York Health Department. They entirely corroborate my opinion of
the value of formic aldehyde as a disinfectant. After detailing the
tests which they have made they conclude that "Formic aldehyde gas
is the best disinfectant at present known for the disinfection of infected
dwellings." They also show how books, furs, leather, feathers,
artificial flowers, ladies' hats and other articles which arc injured by
steam, hot air at 230 degrees F. or other disinfectants, may be
efficiently and safely disinfected by formic aldehyde, in a closed
chamber, with the aid of a partial vacuum, and a temperature of
110 degrees to 112 degrees F. Under such circumstances, also, a
high penetrative power is developed so that bulky objects as bedding
might be effectively disinfected. For the disinfection of rooms they
recommend as a rule that when the gas is used, it should be in the
proportion of 1 per cent. per volume, and the exposure should be
for not less than two hours, the temperature being not less than 52
degrees Fahrenheit.
F. J. A.