Facilitating handwashing where water is scarce – EAWAG, October 22, 2018.
Even though the water we’ve used for washing our hands is barely contaminated, it usually disappears down the drain, never to be used again. A newly developed system allows handwashing water to be recycled, thus not only saving water, but also helping to prevent infectious diseases in developing countries.
Every year, according to WHO figures, around four million people die as a result of diarrhoeal diseases or respiratory infections. Particularly in developing countries, these deaths are largely attributable to poor hygiene – the problem would be significantly alleviated by regular handwashing.
But how can this be achieved in places where people lack access to safe water, or piped water is unavailable? This issue is being addressed by a group of environmental engineers led by ETH Professor Eberhard Morgenroth (Head of Process Engineering at Eawag), carrying out research as part of the Blue Diversion AUTARKY project.
They have now developed a grid-free treatment system allowing greywater – relatively clean wastewater from showering, bathing or handwashing – to be repeatedly recycled.
As Morgenroth points out, while commercial systems are already available which enable greywater to be treated on-site for use in toilet flushing, the recycled water does not meet the required quality standards to be used for other purposes.
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