Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 92 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884.

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A course of lectures on sanitary engineering has been delivered during the past few weeks before the officers of the Royal Engineers stationed at Chatham, by Captain Douglas Galton, C.B., D.C.L., F.R.S.

The refuse which has to be dealt with, observed Captain Galton, whether in towns or in barracks or in camp, falls under the following five heads:  1, ashes; 2, kitchen refuse; 3, stable manure; 4, solid or liquid ejections; and 5, rainwater and domestic waste water, including water from personal ablutions, kitchen washing up, washings of passages, stables, yards, and pavements.  In a camp you have the simplest form of dealing with these matters.  The water supply is limited.  Waste water and liquid ejection are absorbed by the ground; but a camp unprovided with latrines would always be in a state of danger from epidemic disease.  One of the most frequent causes of an unhealthy condition of the air of a camp in former times has been either neglecting to provide latrines, so that the ground outside the camp becomes covered with filth, or constructing the latrines too shallow, and exposing too large a surface to rain, sun, and air.  The Quartermaster-General’s regulations provide against these contingencies; but I may as well here recapitulate the general principles which govern camp latrines.  Latrines should be so managed that no smell from them should ever reach the men’s tents.  To insure this very simple precautions only are required: 

1.  The latrines should be placed to leeward with respect to prevailing winds, and at as great a distance from the tents as is compatible with convenience. 2.  They should be dug narrow and deep, and their contents covered over every evening with at least a foot of fresh earth.  A certain bulk and thickness of earth are required to absorb the putrescent gas, otherwise it will disperse itself and pollute the air to a considerable distance round. 3.  When the latrine is filled to within 2 ft. 6 in. or 3 ft. of the surface, earth should be thrown into it, and heaped over it like a grave to mark its site. 4.  Great care should be taken not to place latrines near existing wells, nor to dig wells near where latrines have been placed.  The necessity of these precautions to prevent wells becoming polluted is obvious.  Screens made out of any available material are, of course, required for latrines.  This arrangement applies to a temporary camp, and is only admissible under such conditions.

A deep trench saves labor, and places the refuse in the most immediately safe position, but a buried mass of refuse will take a long time to decay; it should not be disturbed, and will taint the adjacent soil for a long time.  This is of less consequence in a merely temporary encampment, while it might entail serious evils in localities continuously inhabited.  The following plan of trench has been adopted as a

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 421, January 26, 1884 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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