Sanitation is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of sewage wastewater. Hazards can be either physical, microbiological, biological or chemical agents of disease. Wastes that can cause health problems include human and animal feces, solid wastes, domestic wastewater (sewage, 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 World Health Organization states that:
"Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and feces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word 'sanitation' also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.[1]

The term "sanitation" is applied to a wide range of subjects such as:
     Improved sanitation - refers to the management of human faeces at the household level. This terminology is the indicator used to describe the target of the Millennium Development Goal on sanitation, by the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and 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 - an approach that tries to emulate nature through the recycling of nutrients and water from human and animal wastes in a hygienically safe manner.

About 2.4 billion people globally live under highly unsanitary conditions and have such poor hygiene behaviours that their exposure to risks of incidence and spread of infectious diseases, are enormous. Water stored at home is frequently contaminated by inadequate water management in the home. These issues are receiving increasing attention, but considering the huge backlog within the sector there is still a need for greater mobilization of resources and involvement of decision-makers at all levels.

WHO has been at the forefront of environmental sanitation and hygiene action over the past years and developed some key materials intended for policy-makers and technical people dealing with these issues. These materials include guidelines, best practice documents and promotion materials.

For any social and economic development, adequate sanitation in conjunction with good hygiene and safe water are essential to good health (Mara, Lane and Scott and Trouba 1). Lack of proper sanitation causes diseases. Most of the diseases resulting from sanitation have a direct relation to poverty. The lack of clean water and poor sanitation has caused many diseases and the spread of diseases. Sanitation is very important in order to keep good health.One of the most significant diseases that arise from poor sanitation is diarrhea. Deaths resulting from diarrhea are estimated to be between 1.6 and 2.5 million deaths every year (Mara, Lane and Scott and Trouba 2). Most of the affected are young children below the ages of five. Other diseases that are caused by poor sanitation include schistosomiasis, trachoma, and soil transmitted Helminthiases.

Poor sanitation accounts for almost 50 percent of underweight child since it has a direct link to diarrhea. Children suffering for diarrhea are more vulnerable to become underweight. According to Mara, Lane, and Scott and Trouba (3), about 26 percent acute respiratory infections occur in children who are malnourished, which has a direct link to diarrhea. Sanitation is a serious issue that is affecting most parts of the world especially the developing countries. On a global scale, the most affected are children who in most cases lose their lives due to diseases caused by poor sanitation. Major initiatives need to be set up if the MDG goal on sanitation is to be achieved by 2015.

Environmental sanitation is a set of actions geared towards improving the quality of the environment and reducing the amount of disease. By doing so, the hope is that living conditions will improve and health problems will decrease. The management of water, solid waste, and industrial waste, as well as the topic of pollution and noise control, all fall under the umbrella of environmental sanitation.

The water supply can directly impact pollution and the spread of disease. The most common sources of water include groundwater and surface water; the main sources of groundwater are usually wells and springs, while surface water comes from fresh water sources like lakes and rivers. Both require treatment before being consumed because various chemicals, particles, and biological contaminants, like bacteria, can enter the water.  Many developed countries have water treatment plants where drinking water is cleaned of dirt and particles, disinfected, and stored until needed. This water may be run through pipes directly to homes and business. Other methods of treating water include boiling it or treating it with chemicals to kill harmful bacteria. In addition to other sources, water can become contaminated from household trash and human waste. If waste is not disposed of properly, it can mix with water in the ground or with surface water that might be collected for drinking and cooking. When people drink tainted water, it can spread disease or even cause new outbreaks.

The environmental conditions of a given area may be affected by waste management, the process used to dispose of garbage. How waste is disposed of varies based on living conditions and the accepted standard of living in a geographical area. While some communities provide wastewater treatment and trash collection, others do not, which reduces the ability to control the well-being of the environment and its people. When waste is not removed and treated properly, pollution may lead to the spread of disease; when proper disposal and treatment methods are followed, disease and pollution can usually be reduced.

Every day, people throw away a large amount of garbage, which is usually referred to as solid waste. In many countries, some form of solid waste management system has been put in place. Some common ways to dispose of the garbage include incarceration, which is the burning of waste, or landfills, which are places to store waste. In the United States and Europe, both of these methods are commonly used to manage solid waste.

Environmental sanitation is not limited to the pollution of water and the improper disposal of household waste. When factories or businesses dispose of chemical and physical waste in ways that directly affect the environment, it is often referred to as industrial pollution. For example, while the actual dumping site may occur several miles away from a main source of water, drainage and rainfall can cause chemicals and physical waste to mix with the water supply and pollute it. Some countries have developed a system to properly dispose of industrial waste and help protect the environment; as with household waste, some of these systems incorporate incarceration and landfills into their management strategies.

Another factor of a healthy environment is air pollution; many studies have shown the negative effects of air pollution on the environment. Air pollution can also affect a person's ability to breathe, which can potentially increase the number of lung and heart problems in the members of a community. Irritating and excessive noise in the environment can also cause anxiety attacks or lead to distractions, among other things, which can lead to accidents and other potentially hazardous situations.

Ways to Help
There are a number of ways to help keep the environment clean and help improve people's overall health status:
1.   Individuals should avoid wasting water. They can do this by taking shorter showers, not leaving the water running, and using only what water is needed.
2.   People should recycle as much as possible to reduce waste. Many major cities offer recycling for plastic, paper, and glass products.
3.   Individuals can walk, ride a bike, or carpool to reduce air pollution.
4.   Each person can educate others on ways to help improve the environment.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are four areas that must be reviewed in order for environmental sanitation to be effective: planning, water supply, sanitation, and hygiene education. The WHO offers guidelines for these steps on their website to help implement environmental hygiene programs nationwide and improve overall health.
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