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  Sanitation is the hygienic means of preventing human contact from the hazards of wastes to promote health. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems are human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic wastewater (sewage, urine, sullage, greywater), industrial wastes, and agricultural wastes. Hygienic means of prevention can be by using engineering solutions (e.g. sewerage and wastewater treatment), simple technologies (e.g.latrines, septic tanks), or even by personal hygiene practices (e.g. simple handwashing with soap).

The term "sanitation" can be applied to a specific aspect, concept, location, or strategy, such as:

Basic sanitation - refers to the management of human feces at the household level. This terminology is the indicator used to describe the target of the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation.

On-site sanitation - the collection and treatment of waste is done where it is deposited. Examples are the use of pit latrines, septic tanks, and imhoff tanks.

Food sanitation - refers to the hygienic measures for ensuring food safety.

Environmental sanitation - the control of environmental factors that form links in disease transmission. Subsets of this category are solid waste management, water and wastewater treatment, industrial waste treatment and noise and pollution control.

Ecological sanitation - a concept and an approach of recycling to nature the nutrients from human and animal wastes.


Sanitation and wastewater

Wastewater collection

For more details on this topic, see Wastewater.

The standard sanitation technology in urban areas is the collection of wastewater in sewers, its treatment in wastewater treatment plants for reuse or disposal in rivers, lakes or the sea. Sewers are either combined with storm drains or separated from them as sanitary sewers. Combined sewers are usually found in the central, older parts or urban areas. Heavy rainfall and inadequate maintenance can lead to combined sewer overflows or sanitary sewer overflows, i.e. more or less diluted raw sewage being discharged into the environment. Industries often discharge wastewater into municipal sewers, which can complicate wastewater treatment unless industries pre-treat their discharges.[1]

The high investment cost of conventional wastewater collection systems are difficult to afford for many developing countries. Some countries have therefore promoted alternative wastewater collection systems such as condominial sewerage, which uses smaller diameter pipes at lower depth with different network layouts from conventional sewerage.

Wastewater treatment

For more details on this topic, see Sewage treatment.


In developed countries treatment of municipal wastewater is now widespread,[2] but not yet universal (for an overview of technologies see wastewater treatment). In developing countries most wastewater is still discharge untreated into the environment. For example, in Latin America only about 15% of collected sewerage is being treated (see water and sanitation in Latin America)

Reuse of wastewater

The reuse of untreated wastewater in irrigated agriculture is common in developing countries. The reuse of treated wastewater in landscaping (esp. on golf courses), irrigated agriculture and for industrial use is becoming increasingly widespread.

In many peri-urban and rural areas households are not connected to sewers. They discharge their wastewater into septic tanks or other types of on-site sanitation.

Ecological sanitation

For more details on this topic, see Ecological sanitation.

Ecological sanitation is sometimes presented as a radical alternative to conventional sanitation systems. Ecological sanitation is based on the separation of urine and feces at the source for sanitization and recycling. It thus eliminates fecal pathogens from the wastewater flow. If ecological sanitation is practiced municipal wastewater consists of greywater, which can be recycled for gardening. However, in most cases greywater continues to be discharged to sewers.

Sanitation and public health

The importance of waste isolation lies in an effort to prevent water and sanitation related diseases, which afflicts both developed countries as well as developing countries to differing degrees. It is estimated that up to 5 million people die each year from preventable water-borne disease[3], as a result of inadequate sanitation and hygiene practices.

Global access to improved sanitation

The Joint Monitoring Program for water and sanitation of WHO and UNICEF has defined improved sanitation as

  • connection to a public sewer
  • connection to a septic system
  • pour-flush latrine
  • simple pit latrine
  • ventilated improved pit latrine

According to that definition, 59% of the world population had access to improved sanitation in 2004. [1] Only slightly more than half of them or 31% of the world population lived in houses connected to a sewer. Overall, 2.6 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation and thus had to resort to open defecation or other unsanitary forms of defecation, such as public latrines or open pit latrines. This outcome presents substantial public health risks as the waste could contaminate drinking water and cause life threatening forms of diarrhea to infants.

In developed countries, where less than 20% of the world population lives, 99% of the population has access to improved sanitation and 81% were connected to sewers.

Solid waste disposal

For more details on this topic, see Waste management.

  Disposal of solid waste is most commonly conducted in landfills, but incineration, recycling, composting and conversion to biofuels are also avenues. In the case of landfills, advanced countries typically have rigid protocols for daily cover with topsoil, where underdeveloped countries customarily rely upon less stringent proocols[4]. The importance of daily cover lies in the reduction of vector contact and spreading of pathogens. Daily cover also minimises odour emissions and reduces windblown litter. Likewise, developed countries typically have requirements for perimeter sealing of the landfill with clay-type soils to minimize migration of leachate that could contaminate groundwater (and hence jeopardize some drinking water supplies).

For incineration options, the release of air pollutants, including certain toxic components is an attendant adverse outcome. Recycling and biofuel conversion are the sustainable options that generally have superior life cycle costs, particularly when total ecological consequences are considered[5]. Composting value will ultimately be limited by the market demand for compost product.

Sanitation in the developing world

The United Nations Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) include a target to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015. In December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2008 'The International Year of Sanitation', in recognition of the poor progress has been made towards the MDGs sanitation target. The year aims to develop awareness and action to meet the target. Particular concerns are:

  • Removing the stigma around sanitation, so that the importance of sanitation can be more easily and publicly discussed.
  • Highlighting the poverty reduction, health and other benefits that flow from better hygiene, household sanitation arrangements and wastewater treatment.

Research from the Overseas Development Institute suggests that sanitation and hygiene promotion needs to be better 'mainstreamed' in development, if the MDG on sanitation is to be met. At present, promotion of sanitation and hygiene is mainly carried out through water institutions. The research argues that there are, in fact, many institutions that should carry out activities to develop better sanitation and hygiene in developing countries. For example, educational institutions can teach on hygiene, and health institutions can dedicate resources to preventative works (to avoid, for example, outbreaks of cholera).[6]

Sanitation in the food industry

  Sanititation within the food industry means to the adequate treatment of food-contact surfaces by a process that is effective in destroying vegetative cells of microorganisms of public health significance, and in substantially reducing numbers of other undesirable microorganisms, but without adversely affecting the product or its safety for the consumer (FDA, Code of Federal Regulations, 21CFR110, USA).

Additionally, in the food and Biopharmaceutical industries, the term sanitary equipment means equipment that is fully cleanable using Clean-in-place (CIP), and Sterilization in place (SIP) procedures: that is fully drainable from cleaning solutions and other liquids. The design should have a minimum amount of deadleg[7] or areas where the turbulence during cleaning is not enough to remove product deposits. In general, to improve cleanability, this equipment is made from Stainless Steel 316L, (an alloy containing small amounts of molybdenum). The surface is usually electropolished to an effective surface roughness of less than 0.5 micrometre, to reduce the possibility of bacterial adhesion to the surface.


The earliest evidence of urban sanitation was seen in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and the recently discovered Rakhigarhi of Indus Valley civilisation. This urban plan included the world's first urban sanitation systems. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes.

Although the Romans had some elements of sanitation systems, especially related to wastewater collection and transport away from populated areas, there is little record of sanitation in Europe until the High Middle Ages. Unsanitary conditions and overcrowding were widespread throughout Europe and Asia during the Middle Ages, resulting periodically in cataclysmic pandemics such as the Plague of Justinian (541-42) and the Black Death (1347-1351), which killed tens of millions of people and radically altered societies.[8]

Very high infant and child mortality prevailed in Europe throughout medieval times, due not only to deficiencies in sanitation but to insufficient food for a population which had expanded faster than agriculture[9]. This was further complicated by frequent warfare and exploitation of civilians by brutal rulers. Life for the average person at this time was indeed 'nasty, brutish and short.'



  1. ^ .Environmental Biotechnology: Advancement in Water And Wastewater Application, edited by Z. Ujang, IWA Proceedings, Malaysia (2003)
  2. ^ Typical U.S. water treatment standards
  3. ^ Pacific Institute
  4. ^ George Tchobanoglous and Frank Kreith Handbook of Solid Waste Management, McGraw Hill (2002)
  5. ^ William D. Robinson, The Solid Waste Handbook: A Practical Guide, John Wiley and sons (1986)
  6. ^ Sanitation and Hygiene: knocking on new doors. Overseas Development Institute (2006).
  7. ^ Treatment of deadleg plumbing areas
  8. ^ Carlo M. Cipolla, Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy 1000-1700, W.W. Norton and Company, London (1980) ISBN 0-393-95115-4
  9. ^ Burnett White, Natural History of Infectious Diseases

See also

Look up sanitation in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
  • Carl Rogers Darnall
  • Ecological sanitation
  • Sanitary sewer overflow
  • Sewage collection and disposal
  • Sewerage
  • Trap (plumbing)
  • Water crisis
  • Water supply
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Water supply and sanitation in France
  • Public water supply and sanitation in Germany
  • Water and sanitation in Latin America
  • Water supply and sanitation in the United Kingdom
  • Water supply and sanitation in the United States
  • World Toilet Organization

Translations for: Sanitation

Français (French)

n. - Assainissement

Español (Spanish)

n. - higiene, saneamiento

中文(简体) (Chinese (Simplified))

n. - 公共卫生, 环境卫生, 下水道设施, 卫生设备, 盥洗设备

中文(繁體) (Chinese (Traditional))

n. - 公共衛生, 環境衛生, 下水道設施, 衛生設備, 盥洗設備

العربيه (Arabic)

n. - ‏(الاسم) جعل ألشيء صحيا‏

Русский (Russian)

n. - оздоровление, санация, улучшение санитарных условий, санитария, санитарная профилактика, водопровод и канализация, ассенизация

Dansk (Danish)

n. - hygiejne, sanitetsvæsen, sanitet, teknisk hygiejne

Nederlands (Dutch)

n. - afvalverwerking, rioolwaterzuivering

Deutsch (German)

n. - Kanalisation, Hygiene, Abwasserentsorgung, Abfallwirtschaft

Ελληνική (Greek)

n. - υγιεινή, εξυγίανση, αποκομιδή αποβλήτων και σκουπιδιών από σπίτια

Italiano (Italian)

n. - igiene, fognature, nettezza urbana

Português (Portuguese)

n. - saneamento (m)

Svenska (Swedish)

n. - renhållning, sanitär utrustning, sanitära anläggningar, hälsovård

한국어 (Korean)

n. - 공중 위생, 위생 시설, 하수구 설비

日本語 (Japanese)

n. - 公衆衛生, 衛生設備

עברית (Hebrew)

n. - ‮תברואה, סניטציה, גהות‬

বাংলা (Bengali)

n. - পরিচ্ছন্নতা

Pilipino (Tagalog)

n. sanitasyon; gawaing pangkalinisan

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sanitation". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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