Tag Archives: common cup

#TDIWH—February 23, 1893: Interstate Quarantine Act Becomes Law

0223 Interstate Quarantine RegulationsFebruary 23, 1893: Interstate Quarantine Act becomes law. “In 1893 Congress passed the Interstate Quarantine Act to reduce the spread of communicable diseases through interstate commerce. The act gave the Department of the Treasury broad powers to establish regulations preventing the spread of disease from one state to another in the following clause (Cumming 1932; Kraut 1994):

‘The Secretary of the Treasury shall, if in his judgment it is necessary and proper, make such additional rules and regulations as are necessary to prevent the introduction of such diseases (communicable) into the United States from foreign countries, or into one State or Territory or the District of Columbia from another State or Territory or the District of Columbia ….’

This clause was not immediately perceived as requiring any regulations relating to drinking water. In fact, methods of bacteriological analysis and water treatment were not sufficiently developed at this time for the establishment of quantitative standards.”

Reference: Fischbeck, Paul S. and R. Scott Farrow eds. Improving Regulation: Cases in Environment, Health and Safety. Washington, DC:Resources for the Future. 2001, p. 52.

Commentary: However, in 1912 the common cup was banned on interstate carriers using this law as the basis for regulation by the Treasury Department. In 1914, the first microbiological drinking water regulations were adopted under the Interstate Quarantine Act that governed the quality of water served aboard interstate carriers (trains, riverboats and Great Lakes steamers).

#TDIWH—January 28, 1912: Common Cup Banned in 24 States

1030 Common CupJanuary 28, 1912: New York Times headline—The Drinking Cup Law: It is Now in Force in 24 States. “The fact that in one year the common drinking cup has been abolished by law in twenty-four States is commented upon as follows in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

Public sentiment is a strange and illusive force. It sometimes fails to respond, in spite of every effort to arouse its interest in a worthy case. Again, it suddenly asserts itself without any known reason. One of the strangest of recent manifestations of this force of public sentiment is the present crusade against the common drinking cup. For years physicians and sanitarians have urged the danger and the filthiness of common drinking utensils. With few exceptions their words seemed to fall on deaf ears. The public, apparently, was not interested. But suddenly, without any manifest reason, the point of saturation seemed to be reached. Crystallization of public opinion began. States began to enact laws, and cities to pass ordinances abolishing the common drinking cup in all public places. State after State took it up. There was no concerted movement; there was scarcely any organization behind it; there was little special effort needed.

The people evidently had made up their minds that common drinking cups were bad and must go. So they have abolished them in at least twenty-four States in a little more than one year’s time. These States are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and Washington. Doubtless the other States will act as soon as they have an opportunity.

The moral is: Saturate the public with facts, and when the people are convinced, they will act.”

Commentary: I wish it were that easy. Generally, the public resists hearing about facts related to public health. However, clearly a “tipping point” of some sort had been reached in the public’s consciousness. The action of the states clearly led to the federal action later in 1912. On October 30, 2012, we observed the 100th anniversary of the first federal drinking water regulation, which was adopted by the U.S. Treasury Department that prohibited the use of the common drinking cup on interstate carriers. Seven articles in my blog safedrinkingwaterdotcom

December 11, 1913: Interesting Water Articles from Over 100 Years Ago

December 11, 1913: Municipal Journal Articles. Below are some interesting articles from over 100 years ago about water supply and water safety.

1211 Skull Common CupAbolish Common Towel and Cup. Harrisburg, Pa.-Common cups and towels have been banished by the State Board of Health. Anyone violating the new regulation is liable to a fine of $100. Glasses that have been used must be washed in boiling water, and towels must always be freshly laundered. Dr. Dixon, State Commissioner of Health, states that many communicable diseases can thereby be avoided.

Open Water System. South Orange, N. J.-The Village of South Orange, with its 6,000 inhabitants, is obtaining 1ts water supply from its new municipally-owned artesian wells and pumping plant. The ceremonies marking the opening of the system were in charge of Village President Francis Speir, Jr….The plant includes a number of artesian wells in the valley below First Mountain, from which the water is carried by large pipes to a reservoir on top of the mountain. The reservoir is hewn out of solid rock and holds 50,000,000 gallons.

Reservoir Dam Breaks. Abilene, Tex.-A break has occurred in the dam at Syth Lake Reservoir, effecting a great gap through which 600,000,000 gallons of water escaped. A large section of the land bordering on the reservoir was badly flooded. The city of Abilene had to go without water and for that reason the electric power plant was forced to shut down its boilers. The manufacturing plants were also unable to operate.

1211-1913-fire-hydrantHydrants to be Standardized. Oak Point, Cal.-An important improvement was ordered for this district by Commissioner of Public Works E. M. Wilder. Wilder has directed that all hydrants be standardized so that the same size wrench or spanner may open any of the hydrants in this district. Recently many complaints have been filed on account of broken nuts on the hydrants, caused by the use of different kinds of wrenches.

Reference: Municipal Journal. 1913. 35:24(December 11, 1913): 800.

November 15, 1910: New York Abolishes Common Cup

1211 Skull Common CupNovember 15, 1910New York Times headline—Would Abolish Common Cup. “Albany, Nov. 15—“There is no excuse for a public drinking cup, on the train or anywhere else, now that penny-in-the-slot machines serve out paper cups and that metal collapsible cups can be purchased for a dime,” says a circular sent out by the State Department of Health. The Health Department is co-operating with the railroads to do away with the public drinking cup on trains and in railroad stations. It is stated that there is great possibility of the transmission of disease by the use of the common drinking cup….”

CommentaryOn October 30, 2012, we observed the 100th anniversary of the first drinking water regulation, which was adopted by the U.S. Treasury Department that prohibited the use of the common drinking cup on interstate carriers. Individual states like New York and Kansas led the way by raising awareness of this serious public health problem. Seven articles in my blog safedrinkingwaterdotcom provided a countdown to the anniversary date.

October 30, 1912: 104th Anniversary of Regulation Banning the Common Cup

1030 Common CupOctober 30, 1912. At the turn of the 20th century, public health professionals were still struggling to incorporate the precepts of the germ theory into all of their protocols. The general population was even further behind and, in many cases, resisted the momentum for change. One popular custom during this period was the use of a single cup or dipper for a pail of water or water cooler aboard trains—the common cup. Disease transmission as a result of using a common cup in public places was a serious problem far longer than imaginable. In 1902, the MIT professor and noted author William T. Sedgwick recognized the danger of the common drinking cup, cautioned against its use and noted that the public was not concerned, possibly due to the familiarity of its use.

“It not infrequently happens that the same persons who complain loudly and rightly enough, perhaps, of dirty streets, and are quick to blame public officials for their laxity in this respect will, nevertheless, at fountains, in railway trains or in theatres, apply their own lips to public drinking-cups which a few minutes before have been touched by the lips of strangers, possibly suffering from infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis or diphtheria.” (Sedgwick 1902)

Ten years later, the further spread of sanitary knowledge did not solve the continuing problem with the common cup. By 1912, the germ theory of disease was well established. Transmission of disease from one person to another was well understood. Isolation and quarantine were routinely practiced for those diseases transmitted from person to person. All the tools were in place to eliminate the problem of the common cup as a disease vector.

Apparently not. In a report from the New Jersey State Board of Health, it was noted that a state law prohibiting the use of a common cup aboard trains and boats had been passed prior to 1912. However, there was significant opposition to the law, because the operators of the trains and boats were not providing individual drinking cups (because they did not have to) and the public was unaware that they had to bring their own cups. The law had been attacked because no evidence had been presented proving disease transmission by the common cup and the regulation banning the common cup was an interference with individual rights—presumably New Jersey was interfering with the right of people to get sick. The following passage from the New Jersey report needs no explanation.

“One of the representatives of this Board [New Jersey State Health Board] while traveling on a railroad train noted that a family of children [was] afflicted with whooping-cough. As the children had spasmodic attacks, after each attack had passed they would go to the water cooler and take a drink from the glass which was used in common by all the passengers. After this had been repeated several times the inspector took occasion to go to the cooler, and holding the glass to the light found that it was smeared with the infected mucous from the mouths of these children.” (Board of Health, 1913)

Voices representing the railroad company interests added to this bizarre conversation in 1912.

“In 1912, an editorial in Railway and Locomotive Engineering lamented the passing of what it saw as a humane and democratic custom, complaining, ‘The cranks whose senseless agitation has eliminated the public drinking cup, even in the Pullman cars, have inflicted much discomfort upon ordinary people and have largely increased the business of saloon keepers.’” (Tomes 1998)

Sedgwick noted a “technological” solution to the common cup problem that we take for granted today. “A sanitary fountain has been devised, and is in use in many places, to do away with the public drinking-cup, and in so far as it is successful in doing this, it deserves the warm commendation of sanitarians…any one who wishes simply leans over and drinks from a little fountain [small jet of water] provided for the purpose.” (Sedgwick 1902) Bubblers are still in use today with, perhaps, the best known (and most beautiful) being the public water fountains in Portland, Oregon.

States got into the act with regulations on the use of the common cup (or common pail, for heaven’s sake) in schools. A series of articles on the blog safedrinkingwaterdotcom counting down to October 30, 2012, chronicled the efforts of Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine to ban the common cup in Kansas.

Aiding the migration away from the mucous-smeared common cup was the invention of the disposable paper cup in 1907 by Lawrence Luellen. The Dixie Cup was introduced about 1908 and was first called the “Health Kup.” In 1919, the cup was named after a line of dolls made by Alfred Schindler’s Dixie Doll Company. Simple advances in technology such as the paper cup can have big impacts on public health. As one wit stated recently on a Linkedin comment, “That was one small cup for a man….” (Cook 2012)

On October 30, 1912 the federal government established the very first national drinking water regulation that banned the use of the common cup aboard interstate train carriers. (Common Drinking Cups 1912) One author has explained the arc of drinking water regulation extending from the common cup to Cryptosporidium. (Roberson 2006)

Commentary: Sometimes these customary practices survive long after we think they are gone—especially in other countries. In the summer of 1982, I was riding on a bus in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). I noticed lemonade vending machines along the sidewalks where for a few kopeks citizens could get a glass of refreshment. It was not until I looked more closely that I saw that everyone was using the same glass. After a person filled the glass with lemonade and drank from it, the obedient Soviet citizen would carefully put the glass on top of the machine for the next person to use.

References:

Board of Health of the State of New Jersey. Thirty-Sixth Annual Report 1912. Trenton:State of New Jersey, 1913.

Cook, John B. “RE: October 30, 2012.” Email to Alan Roberson and Mike McGuire. October 22, 2012.

“Common Drinking Cups, Amendment to Interstate Quarantine Regulations (dated October 30, 1912).” Public Health Reports. 28:44 (November 1, 1912): 1773.

Roberson, J. Alan. “From Common Cup to Cryptosporidium: A Regulatory Evolution.” Jour. AWWA. 98:3 (March 2006): 198-207.

Sedgwick, William T. Principles of Sanitary Science and the Public Health: With Special Reference to the Causation and Prevention of Infectious Diseases. New York:McMillan. 1902, p. 119-20.

Tomes, Nancy. The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women, and the Microbe in American Life. Cambridge, MA:Harvard University, 1998.

July 29, 1911: Common Cup on New Jersey Trains

1211 Skull Common CupJuly 29, 1911: New York Times headline. Stops Fare Advance on Jersey Roads. “As soon as the rate matter had been disposed of the commission, sitting in the Essex County Court House, Newark, NJ went into a hearing on the question of the railway drinking cup, which the Jersey Legislature recently legislated out of existence. Practically every railroad in New Jersey was represented, and all the roads are fighting the suggestion that individual cups of paraffin or any other like substance be substituted at the railroad’s expense for the outlawed common drinking cup.

State Senator H. V. Osborne was present to urge that the roads be required to meet the situation promptly and practically so that the honest thirst of the traveling public will not go unslaked.

For the Lehigh Valley it was stated that while the public drinking cup had been taken away promptly when the law became effective, no substitute had been found. The company was considering the matter, but had not determined what could be done. The company, however, is still supplying ice water in its coaches.

At this point State Senator Osborne said the roads could very well afford to furnish individual drinking cups since they had not long ago raised the passenger rates, and were now proposing to raise them again. The suggestion did not seem to meet with instant favor from the railway representatives. Mr. Osborne stuck out, though, that the suggestion was entirely reasonable and the plan practicable. The most radical position against the roads’ doing anything seemed to be taken by W. G. Besler of the Jersey Central. At one time he argued so earnestly against giving the public anything to drink from that some present thought he was arguing on the other side. He said he had rarely seen any one drink out of the common cups as if to prove that people didn’t get thirsty on trains whether the weather was hot or not. Some who heard him at once suggested that the reason people didn’t drink was because they preferred to go thirsty rather than drink from the common cup, with its attendant risks of catching disease.

Mr. Besler further argued that while there had been an outcry when the roads first removed the cup little or no grumbling was now heard, and he thought the people were becoming satisfied either to go thirsty or carry individual cups. He said he had heard no complaints from immigrants at all, though he had suspected that this class of travelers would suffer the most. The absence of complaints from immigrants, he thought, was due to the fact that they usually carried all their possessions with them, and found it easy to fish out a cup of some sort when one was needed.”

Commentary: Interesting picture of customer service at the turn of the 20th Century.

July 19, 1911: Home-Made Sanitary Drinking Cup and New York’s Filtration Plant and Park

0719 paper cupsJuly 19, 1911: Municipal Journal articles.

Home-Made Sanitary Drinking Cup. “With a view to eliminating the dangers of infection from the use of public drinking cups, a set of “plans and specifications” for the manufacture of a sanitary drinking vessel has been prepared. All that is necessary is a piece of paper, seven inches square, which, if folded properly, will form a drinking cup that will be sufficiently sanitary for any one. The diagram shows the method of folding the paper so as to make the cup ready for immediate use. There are no sharp edges of paper at the edge of the cup, and hence no danger of cutting the lips. A cup made from an ordinary grade of book paper will keep its shape and hold water for five or ten minutes. If a hard manila wrapping paper is used the cup will be much more- durable. A convenient size cup for general use is made of a piece of paper seven inches square.

Pupils of the fourth grade at the Grant School, Trenton, N. J., did some excellent work in making paper drinking cups during the last week of the school session, and are making them at their homes for daily use at public drinking fountains. Agitation concerning the uncleanliness of public drinking cups has impressed these children with the advantage of using individual cups. It is the intention of Supervisor William R. Ward, of the manual training class, to introduce the making of cups as a regular feature in the lower grades of all the schools next September. The cups are made of manila paper, folded in such a manner that they keep their shape without any pasting, and can be conveniently carried in pockets of coats or trousers.”

Commentary: The national movement to end the common cup and the disease risks associated with its use reached down into the schools. There were numerous grass-roots efforts to impress on everyone just how dangerous it was to use a common cup. As has been noted in this blog before, individual states banned the common cup and in 1912, the common cup was banned by federal regulation on interstate modes of transportation. By the way, if you want to try the home-made cup, start out with very clean paper.

0719 NY Filter plantNew York’s Filtration Plant and Park. “New York, N. Y.-The illustration is a sketch of the Jerome Park reservoir, for which Commissioner Thompson has been allowed an appropriation of $8,690,000 showing how it will look when half of it is roofed over and a park laid out on top of it. It is estimated that it will take about four years to complete the work, by which time the reservoir park will be made accessible by one of the new transit lines. The filter will be of the mechanical type and will have a capacity of 400,000,000 gallons a day.”

Commentary: 1911? What ever happened to the filtration plant planned for the Croton water supply? Plans for it were shelved when chlorination appeared to solve many of the bacteriological problems with this supply. Now, 100+ years later, filtration of this water supply is becoming a reality. The plant is undergoing the final stages of testing.