Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
College of Arts and Sciences
Robinson, Charles J.
Atmospheric nitrous oxide; Nitric acid; Rain and rainfall--Environmental aspects
Having been born and brought up in China, an empire, where the people are utterly ignorant of the vital importance of a good system of public water supply, and having decided to take chemistry as my profession, I feel intensely interested in the examination of water for the purpose of convincing our people in the far east to pay proper attention to sanitation on a chemical basis. The average life period there has been roughly estimated to be thirty years, and we have now in the Middle Kingdom a population of 450,000,000. It means in each century we have approximately 1,000,000,000 of people there to drink water, not a drop of which has ever been examined to ascertaining whether is free from germs that cause dangerous diseases. In every Summer there break out disastrous epidemics of cholera which frequently result from the use of polluted water, and the people attribute such periodic calamities to the mischief of evil spirits. Persons with typhoid fever, which is also scattered by contaminated waters, are shut up in small rooms with windows and doors closed, thinking cold air to be the ultimate cause of such a malady. By experience they found out that the habit of using cold drinks would injure their health, and thus their favorite beverage has for a few thousands of years been a cup of hot tea. Being ignorant of the baneful consequences, they wash their rice and clothes in the same pond five feet apart. Turbidity, or suspended matters is the only thing that looks offensive to them, and consequently centuries ago they discovered the peculiar property of alum for coagulation, and the latter substance has been extensively manufactured in China for the purpose of purifying their drinking water. Alum, as a good agent for coagulation, has been the chief domestic drug in the Chinese homes, for to any person who is seized abruptly with a serious disease is invariably given a lump of this substance dissolved in a cup of hot water, thinking that the constituents of the sickness in the patient's stomach could be coagulated. Consequently no Chinese home is without a box of alum kept in readiness for emergencies, and large lumps of it are thrown into the water tank when the turbidity of river water is great. Those whose residences are not situated in the vicinity of any stream use water drawn from wells.
Lee, Alexander Y., "Atmospheric nitrous and nitric acids and their absorption by rain and surface water." (1912). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 808.