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Importance of Sanitation

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Importance of Sanitation - Lesson Summary

Sanitation refers to hygiene. Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces.

  • The main objective of human health is to protect and provide clean environment.
  • Sanitation is a major problem in developing countries such as India and China.
  • Due to explosion in population, government is unable to provide proper sanitation through underground drainage system.

Effects of poor sanitation

Water and soil are polluted by open defecation.

Contaminated water and soil prove to be breeding grounds for microorganisms.

Poor sanitation contaminates the ground water which further causes diseases like cholera, typhoid, polio, meningitis, hepatitis and dysentery.

Foul smell from open drains causes inconvenience and respiratory disorders in human beings.

Sewage disposal systems

On-site sewage disposal systems are the systems which collect human excreta and store it in a hole or a pipe and later directed into a sewage treatment plant.

Other methods for sewage disposal are septic tanks, chemical toilets, composting pits and vermi-composting toilets. These on-site sewage disposal systems are cost-effective.

a) Septic tanks

Septic tank is a water tight chamber made of brick, concrete or glass. Solid particles settele down at the bottom and are degraded anaerobically. Effluent escapes through sewers and should be allowed to soak or evaporate.

  • Advantages: Septic tanks are suitable for places such as hospitals, isolated buildings and cluster of houses where there is no sewerage. The septic tank system consists of a small sewage treatment system.
  • Disadvantages: They require lot of space. They are costly to set up. They have to be periodically cleaned. Water seeps through the ground affecting trees and swimming pools

b) Chemical toilets

Aeroplanes and trains usually have chemical toilets. A chemical toilet uses chemicals to disinfect human waste and remove its bad odour.

  • Advantages: These are portable latrines that could be set up any where. They do not require water. They control emission of foul odour.
  • Disadvantages: They use toxic chemicals which are not advisable. These are costly. These are for temporary situations.

c) Composting toilets

A composting toilet is a system that converts human waste into organic compost and usable soil. This happens when micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi, and macro-organisms such as earthworms oxidise organic waste to break it down into essential minerals.

  • Advantages: These are more environmental- friendly. They require less water. They are well suited for village areas.
  • Disadvantages: They require proper maintenance. They end up in emitting foul smell, encourage breeding of insects and increase health hazards. End products should be removed at periodic intervals. The rate of decomposition is very slow.

d) Vermi-Composting toilets

A vermi-composting toilet is a process that involves earthworms which treat human excreta. The entire human waste is converted into vermi-compost.

e) Sulabh toilets

Organisations such as Sulabh International have developed a twin-pit pour flush toilet system that is being used by ten million people every day. The waste from these toilets flows through covered drains into a biogas plant for the generation of biogas and bio-fertilisers. Biogas plants offer safe and hygienic disposal of wastes.

  • Advantages: Sulabh toilets are designed to suit the household conditions. They are affordable at price. They require less space. They eliminate mosquito breeding. They do not pollute the ground water. They are free from foul smell. They are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Disadvantages: Though easy to maintain, they should be maintained properly. It needs attention of government or private agencies.

Litter and waste

Litter and waste cause sanitation havoc at public places. This becomes common when exhibitions and fares are conducted.

Public places such as railway stations, bus depots, airports and hospitals generate lot of waste, which leads to diseases. To prevent the breaking up of diseases, certain measures are to be taken and awareness among people should be created.


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