If you are alive today, you can thank a plumber. Why? If it were not for plumbers and plumbing, your water supply would probably be a disease filled undulating pool of germs waiting to strike and sicken anyone and everyone.
If you look back over the centuries, all of the diseases that wiped out hundreds of thousands of people are attributed to lack of sanitation and sanitary plumbing.
In fact after the fall of the Roman Empire, most people were afraid to bathe. They thought that getting wet caused illness. That fear of bathing persisted into the 1800’s. At one point the City of Boston outlawed bathing, except with a doctor’s orders. In 1652, Boston did build a waterworks system; but it was used to put out fires.
Until the early 1800’s, your toilette comprised a pitcher of water, a basin and a chamber pot or commode. Waste was just tossed into the street! It attracted rats and mice; that brought disease right back to the population.
A crude, fresh water delivery system was developed: it was hollowed out logs! In 1804, the city of Philadelphia passed a code installing cast iron pipes for water delivery. By 1855, the city of Chicago developed the first sewer system.
Now that you know a little of the history, here are the stats: the Black Plague killed between 75-200 million people. It was spread because of a lack of sanitation. Some people even threw their waste into the rivers used for drinking water! Polio thrives in fecal matter. Maybe some of you remember having to get the polio vaccine at school. Polio was declared officially eradicated in 2014.
Here’s an interesting story: the European morality rate was quite high in the 1800’s . Then came the Cholera epidemic. There are reports of about 500 people dying in one week alone. Most people used communal wells to get their drinking water. “Cesspools” were sometimes located near those wells and the groundwater seeped into the drinking water.
Yes there are vaccines, but having access to clean drinking water and a sanitary waste system almost puts the brakes on disease.
Today there are still issues with clean drinking water in many parts of the world, as well as sanitary waste disposal.
Modern plumbing and sanitation does prevent the spread of disease. It’s a documented fact. The Romans were aware of the correlation between sanitary water, waste collection and disease; they had a system in place to protect the population. But when the Roman Empire fell their ideas went with them.
So, if you are here with us today, you can thank a plumber!