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Brass fumigator, France, 1741-1850

Sweet smelling herbs and plants were set alight inside this brass fumigator and the smoke given off was used to purify and disinfect the air around the person carrying the torch. It is based on the miasma theory, the idea that disease was caused by bad smells in the air from rotting animal matter, human waste and stagnant water. This theory of disease also appeared to give an explanation for why rubbish strewn poor areas with bad sanitation were more at risk from disease.

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Glossary: fumigator

An object used to disinfect or purify the air with fumes, often used to eradicate pest infestations from buildings.

Glossary: disinfectant

Material used for killing germs, bacteria, or spores.

Glossary: miasma

No description.