Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Latrines And Out-houses Trounce Toilets In Global War Against Poor Sanitation

Date:
June 20, 2008
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
While Americans may consider flush-and-forget-it indoor plumbing to be the pinnacle of sanitary science, the lowly latrine could be a far better solution for many parts of the developing world. Installing water-guzzling appliances such as toilets can actually promote unsanitary conditions when the effluent is discharged untreated into once-clean rivers and streams. A properly built latrine, on the other hand, keeps sewage safely separate from drinking water.

A properly built latrine keeps sewage safely separate from drinking water.
Credit: iStockphoto

While Americans may consider flush-and-forget-it indoor plumbing to be the pinnacle of sanitary science, the lowly latrine could be a far better solution for many parts of the developing world, say researchers at Michigan Technological University.

Associate Professor David Watkins, Professor James Mihelcic and PhD student Lauren Fry of the University's Sustainable Futures Institute analyzed worldwide barriers to sanitation. Diseases such as dysentery attack millions of people every year, often fatally, largely as a result of poor sanitation. In particular, the researchers found that a scarcity of clean drinking water is not as big an issue as one might expect.

In fact, installing water-guzzling appliances such as toilets can actually promote unsanitary conditions when the effluent is discharged untreated into once-clean rivers and streams. A properly built latrine, on the other hand, keeps sewage safely separate from drinking water.

"Our challenge has been to look at what interventions make the most difference," Watkins said. Their findings show that small changes can be more important in preserving health than big engineering projects, a fact that Watkins, an engineer, relates with some consternation. “As engineers, we like to build stuff. But handwashing is really important, too,” he said. "Even a simple thing like not dipping your hand into the water pot can make a big difference."

Getting people to change their habits can be harder than building infrastructure, however.

"They may not understand the science, and because it is about parasites and bacteria that they can’t see, they may not recognize the risks," Watkins said. The resulting lack of political pressure means that money that could go toward improving sanitation and hygiene is spent on other projects.

The Michigan Tech team, all of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, undertook the study to determine why some regions, especially sub-Saharan Africa, are not making progress toward one target of the United Nations' seventh Millennium Development Goal, to halve the proportion of the world’s population without basic sanitation access by 2015. Graduate student Fry, the lead author of the article, recently completed a Peace Corps Master's in Environmental Engineering, after serving as a volunteer in Cameroon, and is now pursing a doctorate in environmental engineering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fry et al. Water and Nonwater-related Challenges of Achieving Global Sanitation Coverage. Environmental Science & Technology, 2008; 42 (12): 4298 DOI: 10.1021/es7025856

Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "Latrines And Out-houses Trounce Toilets In Global War Against Poor Sanitation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 June 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617142851.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2008, June 20). Latrines And Out-houses Trounce Toilets In Global War Against Poor Sanitation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617142851.htm
Michigan Technological University. "Latrines And Out-houses Trounce Toilets In Global War Against Poor Sanitation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080617142851.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins