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Night air

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Title: Night air  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jamie Woon, Superstitions, Miasma theory, Night, Spilling water for luck
Collection: History of Medicine, Night, Superstitions
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

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 was believed to come from rotting vegetation and foul water—especially in swamps and urban ghettos.

Many people, 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


  • Baldwin, Peter C. "How Night Air Became Good Air, 1776-1930" in , July 2003Environmental History
  • Cipolla, Carlo M. Miasmas and disease: Public health and environment in the pre-industrial age. Yale University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-300-04806-8.

External links

  • Early theories of diseases (includes miasma theory)
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