Public Health Act 1848

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  • Public Health
    • Overcrowding
      • Between 1800 - 1850 population doubled
      • Manchester, Leeds & Liverpool trebled in size
        • Leeds- 70% drinking water came from the River Aire
        • Liverpool:1840s- 10-20% of the population lived in cellars
        • Manchester- 50% children died before 5
      • Housing thrown up rapidly and cheaply, near the factories- they were cramped
        • No running water or drains
      • Human, animal and vegetable waste thrown in the street
      • Demand for housing high, so rent was high
      • Overcrowded, dirty & poorly ventilated conditions encouraged diseases to spread
        • Body lice caused Typhus
      • Polluted water caused many to die from diarrhoea and typhoid
        • Death rates doubled
      • Depression & high unemployment- people weaker through lack of food and medicine
    • Cholera
      • From Asia
      • Epidemic in 1831
        • Over 32,000 died
        • Forced the Government to set up a Central Board of Health, over 1000 local boards were created
          • Once the epidemic was over, local boards were disbanded
      • Advice: houses to be whitewashed, bleeding by leeches, temporary fever hospitals to be set up and those with cholera to be put in quarantine
      • The importance of personal hygiene wasn't recognised
      • Many believed it was spread by 'bad air'
      • 1848: recognised as waterborne
      • 1867: Louis Pasteur developed his 'germ theory'
    • Opposition to Reform
      • Lack of knowledge
        • Required technical engineering expertise that councils didn't have
      • From local councils, property owners and water companies
      • Cost
        • Improvements would cost a lot
      • Builders not concerned with water supply, drainage or ventilation, only profit
      • Same attitude that shaped the Poor Law- Laissez-faire
      • The 'Dirty Party'
    • Chadwick's Report on Sanitary Conditions 1842
      • He was convinced illness, disease and death increased the cost of poor relief
      • Report sold 100,000 copies
      • Demonstrated: clear link between poverty and disease, poor housing and water supplies led to disease & high death rate and crime was the result of insanitary conditions, not the other way around
      • He advocated a central government put into practice by local authorities
      • Stressed the need for clean water
      • 1844: Another government report confirmed his findings
    • Public Health Act 1848
      • Established a General Board of Health with 3 members- 1 was Chadwick
      • The Board had the power to establish local boards if it met certain requirements
      • Local boards given powers to deal with sewerage, new houses, water supplies and draining
      • A major breakthrough, but the reforms weren't compulsory
      • General Board main function was to advise and provide information through inspectors
      • Faced opposition as it was seen as increasing centralisation

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