Miasma theory  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) held that diseases such as cholera, chlamydia or the Black Death were caused by a miasma (ancient Greek: "pollution"), a noxious form of "bad air" (with the same meaning like in malaria).

The notion of miasma not only appeared in the western world, but also in the eastern world, where it had a similar concept in the early history, especially in China. The influence of miasma in the West and the East had a few similarities and differences, and the solutions dealing with miasma also varied. Finally, after years of debate, the miasma theory had been displaced by the germ theory of disease.

Night air

Prior to the late 19th century, night air was considered dangerous in most western cultures. Based on “zymotic” theory, people believed vapors called “miasma” (plural "miasmata") rose from the soil and spread diseases. Miasmata came from rotting vegetation and foul water—especially in swamps and urban ghettos.

Many people and especially the weak or infirm avoided breathing night air by going indoors and keeping windows and doors shut.

In addition to ideas associated with zymotic theory, there was also a general fear that cold or cool air spread disease.

The fear of night air gradually disappeared as understanding about disease increased as well as with improvements in home heating and ventilation.

Particularly important was the understanding that the agent spreading malaria was the mosquitoes (active at night) rather than miasmata.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Miasma theory" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools