The number of deaths every week in New York City by consumption, is greater than by any other disease. People are exceedingly frightened about small-pox and fever, but neither of these diseases is so destructive of life as consumption, especially in our cities. What is the reason that this disease is so prevalent ? Is it caused by evil habits, or climate ? Many reasons might be adduced to show that this disease, in many of our cities, is produced by a variety of causes, some of which, if removed, would render it less prevalent. A changeable wet climate is the one where this disease prevails, but if to sudden heats, excessive colds, and much rain, there are impurities in the atmosphere such as smoke, dust, c, or a want of good ventilation, then other fruitful sources of ill health are added to the climate, as the causes which produce this disease. In New York city the excessive amount ot dust which is found everywhere, in dry breezy weather, is perhaps one of the prolific causes of this disease. In a dry climate and a clear atmosphere, it is unknown, but alas for those who are predisposed to it, no such a climate nor atmosphere are to be found here, and from the gross negligence and miserable mismanagement of the government of New York City, the principal streets are the dirtiest in Christendom, hence when no shower visits them for two or three days, clouds of dust roll along with every passing breeze, and every person who from business is compelled to tread our thoroughfares, soon becomes as dark in the face as an Arab. During the past week every pedestrian found in our streets resembled a professor of chimney sweeping, and all owing to our dirty streets. It is a hard lot to snuff and inhale the very dust on which we tread, but in New York we must do it not unfrequently. Physicians have observed that the prevalence of con-dust'into 'fiiman ces's cau8e(l hy inhaling weak lungs should avoid cities, especially dusty, ones. Jt is a shame for a city like New York to be afflicted by its own internal mismanagement with the evils of the Sahara Desert. With such an abundance of water as it has, its streets can be kept clean at all times. It is one of the most insane, shameful, and disgraceful facts connected with New York city, that its streets are kept in such a filthy condition. Strangers from all parts of the world notice this, and pay us compliments for it, but of such a kind as to make us hang our heads. Our people laugh and look to the city government for the remedy ; they think that when they elect a man to fill the Office of Street Commissioner, they have done their duty, and all blame is rolled off their consciences. This is a sad evidence ot incorrect views of duty; the people and the people alone are to blame for every evil that exists in our city. They elect or appoint men to do certain duties, th y are their servants, and tor the acts of their servants they are responsible, and for their evil consequences, they themselves are to blame. The cause of so much mismanagement and evil conduct in public officers, is a want of correct and conscientious views of duty among our citizens, especially the intelligent portion of them.
This article was originally published with the title "Dust and Consumption" in Scientific American 8, 31, 248 (April 1853)