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CHEMICAL
DISINFECTION

By H. C. HAMILTON, M.S.

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Why is it that the fly, the mosquito, the bed- supervision that the average man will take bug, and the body louse are under the ban as thought for his neighbor. known or possible carriers of infection?

Diseases are largely contracted from air, What is meant by disinfection?

water or food contaminated by diseased perWhy is disinfection necessary?

sons, or from direct or indirect contact with How many kinds of disinfection are there? an infectious disease.

What determines the method to be followed Disinfection is necessary to prevent the in a particular case?

spread of the disease from one person who has These and other similar questions are sug- an infectious disease to others; that is, to kill gested by the fact that cases of infectious dis- the organisms before they can be carried to ease are apparently increasing, and that we are others. advised to boil the water, drain the marshes, This may be done by burning all excreta or and disinfect.

applying such a degree of heat as to destroy In some cases a chemical is recommended, the infectious organisms, or it can be in many and in others heat, light, or other physical cases more easily accomplished by means of agents are applied; while in still other cases the chemicals. Every precaution should be taken use of a vaccine or serum is considered of first to safeguard the healthy. importance and the others secondary.

The fly carries bacteria on its feet, the mosThe more dense the population, the more quito carries the material parasite from a pacare is necessary to prevent the spread of dis- tient to a healthy person in sucking blood, and ease. The more filth present, the more rapidly the body louse is the incubator for the typhus do insects multiply to aid in the spread of dis- organism. The bedbug is merely under susease. While no disease is directly due to filth, picion, no proof that any specific disease is filthy conditions are conducive to many dis- carried by it having yet been discovered; but eases. Because we do not actually see the con- everything, animate or inanimate, which goes ditions it is only with difficulty that we can be

from the sick-room is to be regarded as a posbrought to realize the danger.

sible means of spreading disease.

Bacteria are never found unassociated with THE NECESSITY IS APPARENT.

other organic matter, and this should always We are ordinarily on guard only when we

be considered as an important factor in the see, or actually know of, the source of infec

problem of disinfection. The kind of baction. The fly that walks over our dinner plates terial contamination, too, must not be lost may have come directly from exposed excreta

sight of, since the relative resistances of difof a case of enteric fever, the dust we inhale

ferent organisms differ greatly. on a windy day may be the dried sputum of a diphtheria or tuberculosis patient, but our or

CARBOLIC ACID AND CORROSIVE SUBLIMATE. dinary sensations are discomfort only. One Two standard disinfectants come to mind at rarely thinks seriously of the possible danger once when the need arises, namely, carbolic or of the filth from which they were derived. acid and corrosive sublimate. These, however,

The necessity for rigid disinfection of all have certain serious disadvantages, such as recognized sources of infection is therefore their toxicity and their property of coagulating very apparent. For if the flies have no infec- tissues. tious material to walk over they will carry no The danger from poisoning is only through infection, and if no feces or sputum is allowed intent or by mistake, and in well regulated to dry unsterilized and be carried by the winds, homes may be disregarded. But both subthe dust will not be very dangerous. This, stances are convenient and efficient for suicidal however, is a glimpse of Utopia which may or murderous purposes and could with profit never materialize, for it is only by the strictest be replaced by some other disinfecting agent.

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There are few instances in which some other other organic matter-a fact which should substance is not applicable either with equally always be considered as an important factor good or better results.

in the problem of disinfection. When carbolic acid is applied in its strongest Diseases are spread largely by direct or indisolution the skin or tissue with which it comes rect contact with a patient, by insects, and by in contact is destroyed, unless the acid is in- ingestion with food or drink. The first of stantly diluted. This coagulated tissue is al- these is the method of infection which can best most proof against the immediate absorption be controlled by chemical disinfectants. of liquids, so the surface layer, only, is disin- The control of insect pests which spread disfected.

ease has reached a point where certain diseases To a lesser degree the same is true of cor- have been practically eliminated in certain lorosive sublimate, which, as its name implies, is calities which had become almost uninhabitan active corrosive agent, both to metals and able. The spectacular results in controlling to tissues. It corrodes metals by an inter- malarial, typhus and yellow fevers in man, change which dissolves the steel or nickel and and the Texas fever in cattle, show what posdeposits mercury. It corrodes tissues because

sibilities there may be when the mode of infecof its inherent property of combining to form tion is known, even though the infecting practically insoluble and inert proteid com- organism has not been recognized. pounds.

The Federal, State or municipal control of The coagulating action of mercuric chloride conditions surrounding the production and can, however, be avoided by the use of mer- handling of our food and drink supplies, while curic iodide, preferably in the form of soap partly responsible for the high cost of living, and tablets. The latter salt, when

The latter salt, when in solution, is frequently all that stands between us and is about 5 times as strongly germicidal as the infinite danger. chloride, and when associated with appropriate substances is not corrosive to metals and is not

GASEOUS DISINFECTION. a coagulant, its bactericidal action being due Although formaldehyde is naturally a gas, entirely to the formation of a combination its most familiar commercial form is a 40-pertoxic to the bacteria.

cent aqueous solution. Its most efficient form

as a disinfectant also is in aqueous solution, A DESIRABLE FEATURE.

the dry gas being without material action on This association with soap enhances rather bacteria or vermin. This statement seems to than detracts from its value, as is the case be in contradiction to the most common use of when mercuric chloride is mixed with soap. formaldehyde, namely, as a fumigant, or gasIn fact, the presence of an alkali, either free, eous disinfectant. The accuracy of the stateas in the germicidal discs, or one which be- ment has, however, been established by baccomes free through hydrolysis, as in the soap, teriologists, and this fact is undoubtedly the is one of the desirable features in a disinfect- reason for many failures in disinfections with ant, since the solution is then similar in charac- this valuable agent. ter to the plasma.

Experiments carried out by the Pennsylvania It is less irritating and more easily pene- Railroad in disinfecting cars proved that if the trates to poison the bacteria.

air carries 70 per cent of the moisture required The expert sanitarian, however, is making to saturate it, and if a sufficient quantity of a use of a variety of disinfectants, each adapted 40-per-cent solution of formaldehyde is used, to its particular use. The sterilization of sew- thorough disinfection always results, regardage is carried out differently from the disinfec- less of the temperature. tion of stools at the bedside. The latter is There are three essentials to the successful accomplished by use of chemicals, the other by disinfection with formaldehyde: a biologic process in which non-pathogenic bac- 1. Use not less than 1 pint of a 40-per-cent teria outgrow and destroy the pathogenic types. solution to each 1000 cubic feet of space to be The object is disinfection, but the method and disinfected. the substances used are varied to suit condi- 2. By a preliminary sprinkling of the floors tions.

with water, bring the air of the room or buildBacteria are never found unassociated with ing almost to the saturation point of humidity.

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3. Avoid attempts at disinfection on a In many respects these approach the ideal as windy day. It is almost impossible to hold the disinfectants, if one appreciates the fact that vapors in the room long enough for efficient an objectionable characteristic in a certain disaction. The vapors must be rapidly set free infectant becomes, under other conditions, its from the solution.

most desirable feature. For example, entire Failures in disinfection with the consequent volatility and solubility are commendable in discredit into which it has fallen with many formaldehyde, but for disinfecting stables, sanitarians is largely due to lack of proper pens and cars, these features are disadvantages attention to those details. It is also partly due from which one would turn away without hesto the natural question as to how much rein- itation. fection occurs from the objects in the sick

DISTINGUISHING POINTS. room, or whether all the danger is not either directly or indirectly from the patient alone. The phenols of coal tar are not reducing

This is still a disputed question, but even agents, like “copperas,” which as readily takes those who incline to the belief that intection up oxygen from the air as from bacteria. from objects in the sick-room very rarely can

They are not oxidizing agents, like “chloride occur are not ready to eliminate all disinfec

of lime," which gives up its oxygen to live or tion, but suggest as a substitute a thorough dead matter indiscriminately. scrubbing with soap and water instead of fumi- They do not appear to produce chemical gation with formaldehyde. This is undoubt- compounds with protoplasm, as does mercuric edly very efficient for the surfaces covered, but

chloride-a combination which for a limited can never reach every point, as formaldehyde

time acts as an inhibiting agent only. does.

They do not in general precipitate or coagu

late the organic matter when they come in conBY CHEMICAL ACTION.

tact with it, and so become self-limiting in Formaldehyde gas can best be set free from

action. the solution by chemical action, such as that They are relatively non-toxic to animal life by perrnanganate or dichromate. This method and non-irritating to tissues, when appropridestroys a small part of the agent, but brings ately diluted for use. about rapid evolution of the gas and water

These last two features (which may or may vapor—two important conditions.

not be objectionable in a disinfectant) are reLime is an effective disinfecting agent only

duced to

to a minimum in certain coal-tar if it is fresh and unslaked, since its value is in

products of this series, but are present in the the heat generated when brought into contact

two most commonly used and best known, with warm water, the germicidal value of the namely, phenol proper, or carbolic acid, and lime water being almost negligible. Copper cresol, or cresylic acid. sulphate has been found an exceedingly satis

These two are less affected by the inhibiting factory disinfectant for the renovation of the

action of the organic matter which invariably water of swimming pools, but its low power accompanies bacteria and more readily peneas a bactericide would indicate that whatever trate masses of organic matter which would extraordinary value it possesses cannot be dis

filter and tend to remove the globules of an covered by ordinary laboratory test.

emulsified disinfectant. The common coal-tar disinfectants are

THE USE OF SOAP. effective in proportion to their phenol coefficient; they owe their germicidal value to the The less soluble phenols, which are usually phenols contained.

These are compounds associated with some of the neutral oils of closely related to carbolic acid, or phenol coal tar, are rendered easily soluble in or proper, which are formed during the process miscible with water by an agent which partly of manufacturing coke or gas from bitumi- dissolves and partly emulsifies the active nous coal.

agents, namely, soap. Soap, in and of itself, By subsequent chemical treatment there is is of very slight germicidal value, but associobtainable a series of phenols differing among ated with these highly germicidal but insoluble themselves in chemical and physical character- phenols it makes them readily miscible with istics, in toxicity and in bactericidal value. water, increases their penetrating power and

removes the grease and dirt which wouid otherwise tend to inhibit the action of the disinfecting agent.

The phenols of coal tar, therefore, offer to the sanitarian a diversity of products with phenol coefficients ranging from 1 to 20, with toxicities from 100 per cent to 10 per cent, some soluble, others in emulsified form, and with nothing left to guesswork as to their efficiency or applicability.

While it is true that the germicidal value is determined by a laboratory test which does not duplicate practical working conditions, the phenol coefficient can with assurance be used as the multiplier to find the dilution comparable to any specified dilution of carbolic acid.

For example, since the latter is commonly used in 5-per-cent solution, or diluted 1 in 20, a disinfectant with coefficient of 2 can be used diluted 1 in 40 with entire assurance that it will be equally efficient. Much of the discredit from which the coal-tar products have suffered can be traced to the fact that many of them have been placed on the market without standardization, and with extravagant claims regarding their efficiency-claims which on careful examination could not be substantiated.

The value of the coal-tar products as disinfectants now rests on a sure foundation. A good one properly used will go far towards safeguarding the health of the family and the community.

OBVIOUS LEAKS
THAT ARE OFTEN IGNORED

By HAROLD C. BARR

Probably the greatest uncalled-for leak in a receive for vacation money what is lost in this drug store is caused by giving overweight. way every year, his play spell might extend The proprietor or clerk is liable to acquire the throughout the balance of his natural life. habit of adding just a little more after the The proprietor, especially, should be careful scales have been balanced, of not taking over- in this particular. His example is followed by weight out of the pan after it has gone down. the clerks. The excuse for this carelessness may be that We are all aware of the fact that much of the article does not cost very much; and such a the secret of success is associated with the concontention may be true, in a way. But it is a

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tinual turning over of the stock, and that it is sort of continued story when this practice is very necessary to get rid of stickers and dead kept up for a year. A bad and wasteful habit ones. The stock must be kept clean, not only is formed, and sometimes high-priced articles of dirt and dust, but also of goods which are all are treated just as carelessly.

too often put in the stock-room and then never It may sound foolish to some to suggest seen again until inventory time comes around. economizing in wrapping paper, but those who And right here let it be said that a successful have kept track of losses in this matter do not business man takes an inventory at least once a

year. Many drug stores throw away bottles which Some stores waste money by advertising inhave contained fluidextracts, tinctures, etc., judiciously. These cases, of course, can only probably because they are a little hard to clean be remedied by going against the game and or because of the waste of time it would require profiting by adverse experiences. The experito clean them. These bottles do very well- ences of others should be eagerly sought for, just as well as any other, in fact-for such also. things as wood alcohol, spirit of turpentine, The advertising expense of many drug stores carbolic acid, and so on. A neat little sum might be lessened if they would use persistently may be saved in this manner in a year.

and carefully the booklets and leaflets which It seems needless, too, to caution the average nearly all manufacturing firms send out. Much druggist or clerk in regard to corking the of this material is good and will reach its mark alcohol can or barrel after he has drawn off a if properly directed. gallon or two of this very volatile and rather Drug-store economy may not spell wealth, expensive liquid, but if any one man could but it will help some.

think so.

Money-makers and Money-savers.

Information as to where any of the articles mentioned in this department may be obtained will be furnished upon application. Address "Department of Money-makers," THE BULLETIN OF PHARMACY, Detroit, Mich.

Women customers who desire to purchase poses the Old Glory set illustrated herewith is an inexpensive yet attractive and practical particularly appropriate. The outfit consists of Christmas present for men will be interested a substantially-made, fast-color American flag, in this little gift-box containing two indestruc- together with a suitable staff and halyards. tible, one-piece collar buttons. The Parisian ivory box has a permanent value to a man as

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The flag may be obtained in two sizes, one measuring 3 by 5 feet and the other 4 by 6 feet. The retail prices for the two sizes vary from $1.00 to $1.25 and from $1.50 to $2.00.

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Felt pennants imprinted with the town or city name are invariably good sellers, particularly to automobilists and tourists. Pennants similar to the one illustrated, imprinted with

To meet the demand for inexpensive yet serviceable and attractive articles suitable for holiday or birthday giving, many druggists are

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any desired name, may be obtained in a number of different sizes. They retail at 50 cents, 75 cents, and one dollar each, depending upon size. At these prices the dealer is assured a good profit margin.

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With the spirit of "Americanism” rife in featuring these hand-made Indian moccasins. the country many heretofore undecorated Bead trimmed, made by North American Inhomes are beginning to display American flags dians, they possess the charm of novelty to uld on holidays and other occasions. For such pur- and young; and because of their serviceable,

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