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

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St James's 1883

[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for St James's, Westminster]

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away with in St. James's; and if any such pumps still exist in
private houses they should be removed. The subsoil water in
London is necessarily polluted by soakage from sewers, from the
surface of the streets, etc., and such water is especially dangerous
as the medium through which Cholera reaches healthy persons.
The safety of the London drinking water may be ensured, in case
of doubt, by boiling and filtering it.
The cisterns in which drinking water is stored should be
flushed out once a week—say every Saturday. The waste-pipe
may be removed for a few minutes, when the water is about to
come in, and the empty cistern rinsed out by allowing the fresh
water to rush into it freely for a minute or two, and then run
away. This may be repeated until the cistern is clean. The
lead lining of the cistern should not be swept or scrubbed.
The cistern should be kept carefully covered from dust, and so
arranged that rats, mice, or other animals cannot fall into the
water, and that children cannot play with the cistern.
The waste-pipes should be carefully disconnected from water
closets and drains, so that the water in the cistern be secured
against pollution by sewer air entering the upper part of the
2. Cleanliness in the atmosphere of dwelling-houses is secured by such
management of the drains as to ensure the free escape of all soil
and refuse water, while at the same time the drains are so
trapped as to prevent sewer air from coming back into the house.
The chimneys suck out of the house a large quantity of air,
and if an equal quantity of air be not allowed to enter the house
by clean, healthy openings, such air will be sucked into the house
through the drains and water closets, or will pass down such
chimneys as are not heated by fires, and will thus defile the
atmosphere of the house with soot. Much of the dirt and blacks
in the atmosphere of town houses is brought into the house in
this way. The best means of supplying the house with air is to
have a fanlight always open in the basement, such fanlight being
so arranged as to shoot the incoming current out of the way of
the inmates who have to use the passages.
3. The management of the dust-bins. Kitchen refuse should be
burnt. The dust-bin should be outside the basement of the
house, and not near a door through which air enters the house.
The dust-bin should be emptied every week
Any defect in the water supply, cistern, closets, drains, or dust-bin,
should at once be reported to the Sanitary Inspector at the Vestry Hall,