Details

Date1859
AuthorBazalgette
ContributionBegan construction of major sewerage system in London, to reduce disease attributed either to stench or to water-borne agent.
ReferenceHalliday
NotesSee Halliday, S., British Medical Journal 323: 1469-1471, 2001. Civil engineer Bazalgette got funds to build the system largely because of "The Great Stink" of 1858 (when pollution of the river Thames, and a hot, dry summer, resulted in a stench that caused Parliament to adjourn). At the time, it was widely believed that the stench (miasma) alone was responsible for disease. Some attention was also being paid to Snow's evidence for a water-borne agent in the 1854 outbreak of cholera, but the official investigation of that outbreak yielded the firm conclusion that bad air, rather than bad water, was the culprit. Bazalgette himself, in 1864, recognized that the connection between death and defective sewerage was mysterious, but concluded that in practice good drainage meant less disease. In the cholera outbreak of 1866, cases were lagely confined to a small district that had not been connected to Bazalgette's system. London was spared subsequent outbreaks (and did not share Hamburg's fate in 1892, despite much trading between the two cities).
CategoryMiscellany
Pathogen ClassGeneral

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