This project is working to determine the impacts of commercially available cleaning products on the functionality and bacterial community of pit latrines and on the surrounding environment.

  • DatesDecember 2017 - December 2020
  • SponsorUnilever
  • FundedCranfield Industrial Partner PhD funding (DTA EPSRC-Unilever co-funding) £150,180
  • PartnersUnilever

In 2013, an estimated 60% of the world’s population did not have access to integrated sewerage systems, with 1.77 billion people reliant on pit latrines.
Pit latrines help to prevent disease transmission through the special separation of humans and their excreta. As with any sanitation facility, the external surfaces of the pit latrine must also be kept clean to prevent disease transmission. 

The research was commissioned by Unilever to assess the potential impact of commercial cleaning products on pit latrines and the environment. This work will determine how the use of commercial cleaning products on external surfaces affects pit latrine functionality and the surrounding environment. We will look at the effects of commercial cleaning products on pit latrine bacterial communities to determine if their use affects faecal degradation, a key process for pit latrine sanitation. We will also look at the effects of commercial cleaning chemicals on the surrounding environment, including groundwater sources used as drinking water. 

This work will determine if commercial cleaning products are a viable option for improving pit latrine sanitation.