It's Time to Talk More About Toilets

In disasters like Burma, excrement 'a weapon of mass destruction'
By Sam Gale Rosen,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2008 12:25 PM CDT
Victims of Cyclone Nargis struggle to get first in line to receive donated goods from a local donor at a monastery outside the capital of Yangon, Myanmar on Monday May 19, 2008.    (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Modern squeamishness about discussing human feces can cost lives, Rose George writes in the New York Times. The recent disastrous cyclone in Burma highlights how important waste-containment (read: latrines) is to staving off disease, but if wealthy nations won't deign to discuss No. 2, it's hard for them to organize aid to help poorer countries with sanitation.

"Human excrement is a weapon of mass destruction. A gram of human feces can contain up to 10 million viruses," George writes. While celebrities happily promote to campaigns for clean water, the equally important matter of sanitation gets short shrift. "I’ve never seen a movie star pictured in front of a new latrine, though it can double its user’s life span," writes George.