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      Greywater Disposal Practices in Northern Botswana—The Silent Spring?


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          Disposal of greywater is a neglected challenge facing rapidly growing human populations. Here, we define greywater as wastewater that originates from household activities (e.g., washing dishes, bathing, and laundry) but excludes inputs from the toilet. Pollutants in greywater can include both chemical and biological contaminates that can significantly impact human, animal, and environmental health under certain conditions. We evaluate greywater disposal practices in nonsewered, low-income residential areas in Kasane (264 dwellings/ha), Kazungula (100 du/ha), and Lesoma (99 du/ha) villages in Northern Botswana through household surveys ( n = 30 per village). Traditional pit latrines were the dominant form of sanitation (69%, n = 90, 95% CI, 59%–79%) while 14% of households did not have access to onsite sanitation (95% CI 0%–22%). While greywater disposal practices varied across villages, respondents in all sites reported dumping greywater into the pit latrine. Frequency varied significantly across villages with the highest level reported in Kasane, where residential density was greatest ( p < 0.014, χ 2 = 9.13, 61% ( n = 23, 95% CI 41%–81%), Kazungula 41% ( n = 22, 95% CI 20%–62%), Lesoma 13% (95% CI 0%–29%). Disposal of greywater in this manner was reported to limit contamination of the household compound and reduce odors, as well as pit latrine fecal levels. Some respondents reported being directed by local health authorities to dispose of greywater in this manner. Environmentally hazardous chemicals were also dumped directly into the pit latrine to reduce odors. With high household to pit latrine ratios particularly in rental properties (4.2 households, SD = 3.32, range = 15 units, average household size 5.3, SD = 4.4), these greywater and pit latrine management approaches can significantly alter hydraulic loading and leaching of chemicals, microorganisms, and parasites. This can dramatically expand the environmental footprint of pit latrines and greywater, increasing pollution of soil, ground, and surface water resources. Challenges in greywater disposal and pit latrines must be addressed with urgency as health behaviors directed at minimizing negative aspects may amplify the environmental impacts of both greywater and pit latrine excreta.

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          Most cited references 47

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          Urbanization in developing countries: Current trends, future projections, and key challenges for sustainability

           Barney Cohen (2006)
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            Behavior of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and hormones in a sewage treatment plant.

            Two cosmetic ingredients (galaxolide, tonalide), eight pharmaceuticals (carbamazepine, diazepam, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, roxithromycin, sulfamethoxazole and iopromide) and three hormones (estrone, 17beta-estradiol and 17alpha-ethinylestradiol) have been surveyed along the different units of a municipal Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) in Galicia, NW Spain. Among all the substances considered, significant concentrations in the influent were only found for the two musks (galaxolide and tonalide), two anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen and naproxen), two natural estrogens (estrone, 17beta-estradiol), one antibiotic (sulfamethoxazole) and the X-ray contrast medium (iopromide), where the other compounds studied were below the limit of quantification. In the primary treatment, only the fragrances (30-50%) and 17beta-estradiol (20%) were partially removed. On the other hand, the aerobic treatment (activated sludges) caused an important reduction in all compounds detected, between 35% and 75%, with the exception of iopromide, which remained in the aqueous phase. The overall removal efficiencies within the STP ranged between 70-90% for the fragrances, 40-65% for the anti-inflammatories, around 65% for 17beta-estradiol and 60% for sulfamethoxazole. However, the concentration of estrone increased along the treatment due to the partial oxidation of 17beta-estradiol in the aeration tank.
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              Tracking persistent pharmaceutical residues from municipal sewage to drinking water


                Author and article information

                Role: Academic Editor
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                Int J Environ Res Public Health
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                13 November 2015
                November 2015
                : 12
                : 11
                : 14529-14540
                [1 ]Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
                [2 ]Center for African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land Use, Kasane, Botswana, South Africa
                [3 ]Occoquan Watershed Monitoring Laboratory, Virginia Tech, Manassas, WV 20110, USA; E-Mail: agodrej@ 123456vt.edu
                Author notes
                [* ]Author to whom correspondence should be addressed; E-Mail: kathyalx@ 123456vt.edu ; Tel.: +1-540-231-5059; Fax: +1-540-231-7580.
                © 2015 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

                This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).



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