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.

Related Articles


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 March 1, 2015 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 March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

HTC And Valve Team Up For Virtual Reality Headset

HTC And Valve Team Up For Virtual Reality Headset

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) HTC unveiled Vive, its new virtual reality headset, Sunday. The device is supported by gaming company Valve, which has made a push into the market. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Rehab Robot Helps Restore Damaged Muscles and Nerves

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) A rehabilitation robot prototype to help restore deteriorated nerves and muscles using electromyography and computer games. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elon Musk's Hyperloop Moves Forward

Elon Musk's Hyperloop Moves Forward

Buzz60 (Feb. 27, 2015) Zipping around at 800-miles an hour is coming closer to reality in California. An entire town is being built around Elon Musk&apos;s Hyperloop concept and it wants you to stop in for a ride when it&apos;s ready. Brett Larson is on board. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Vibrating Bicycle Senses Traffic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Feb. 26, 2015) Dutch scientists have developed a smart bicycle that uses sensors, wireless technology and video to warn riders of traffic dangers. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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