Your Old Radiator Is a Pandemic-Fighting Weapon
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2020 08:26:06 -0800 (PST)
A fascinating article about how apartments in cities were designed after the 
1918-1919 pandemic to stop contagion.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-05/the-curious-history-of-steam-heat-and-pandemics
 
<https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-08-05/the-curious-history-of-steam-heat-and-pandemics>

Below are excerpts and comments, but the full article is worth reading.

> Turn-of-the-century faith in ventilation to combat disease pushed engineers 
> to design steam heating systems that still overheat apartments today. 

Anyone who has spent a night in an old overheated apartment built in the 1920s, 
knows that opening windows is necessary. This article explains that it was done 
on purpose — so people _would_ keep their windows open to stop transmission of 
disease. 

> Harriet Beecher Stowe, of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame, with her sister, Catherine, 
> coauthored a 1869 book, The American Woman’s Home, that claimed “tight 
> sleeping-rooms, and close, air-tight stoves, are now starving and poisoning 
> more than one half of this nation.”

It might also be noted that the wallpaper in Victorian homes had arsenic in the 
paint. The “fresh air movement” started in the last half of the 19th century to 
combat diseases like TB but adherence became standard practice with the 
pandemics of 1918 and 1919. In NYC, the ethical society school held classes on 
its rooftop. And people slept on sleeping porches all over the east coast.

> Health officials thought (correctly) that fresh air would ward off airborne 
> diseases; then as now, cities rushed to move activities outdoors, from 
> schools to courtrooms. When winter came, the need for fresh air didn’t abate. 
> According to Dan Holohan’s research, the Board of Health in New York City 
> ordered that windows should remain open to provide ventilation, even in cold 
> weather. In response, engineers began devising heating systems with this 
> extreme use case in mind. Steam heating and radiators were designed to heat 
> buildings on the coldest day of the year with all the windows open. Anybody 
> who’s thrown their windows open in January, when their apartment is stifling, 
> is, in an odd way, replicating what engineers hoped would happen a century 
> ago. 

Dan Holohan's _The Lost Art of Steam Heating_ was published in 1992. He found 
that engineering books from the 1920s often mentioned this need to design 
boilers and radiators to operate with all windows open.

> Harriet Beecher Stowe, of Uncle Tom’s Cabin fame. With her sister, Catherine, 
> Stowe would coauthor a 1869 book, The American Woman’s Home, that claimed 
> “tight sleeping-rooms, and close, air-tight stoves, are now starving and 
> poisoning more than one half of this nation.”

So now you know. I’m not sure we can put this into operation now but I have 
noticed that many of the indoor spaces we have now are not usable during the 
pandemic. Even with distancing, there isn’t enough fresh air circulation and 
the HVAC people still say all you need are the blue filters that probably have 
a LEED rating of 0.

Sharon
----
Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC
http://www.takomavillage.org




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