I just finished reading an interesting book on plumbing. I can just see that I lost half my readers with that last sentence. How can plumbing be interesting?
It turns out that if you are interested in health, you must be interested in plumbing. Disposing of human waste is one of the biggest health problems, especially for individuals living in cramped urban areas. In Flushed: How the plumber Saved Civilization, W. Hodding Carter takes the reader on an enjoyable, not-too-serious journey through wonderful world of plumbing. This book is not written by an expert, but what is lacking in in-depth reporting is made up for with personal experiences and lighthearted commentary. Mr. Carter gives the reader interesting historical information, technical details on sewage, and describes his tourist trips to visit plumbing systems of the past and present from around the world. Even included are Mr. Carter’s own attempts at fixing the plumbing system in his house and his eventual purchase of a toilet with a heated seat [I am told by my brother that this is popular in Japan].
One of the most interesting anecdotes relates Mr. Carter’s trip to India to visit Sulabh International. India lacks the wastewater treatment infrastructure to keep its waterways clean.
“As a result, India’s produce teems with bacteria and infectious diseases. The country has an infant mortality rate of sixty deaths in a thousand births and two million Indian children die every year of diseases due in part to poor sewage disposal.
Sewage is the scourge of India”
Sulabh International is an NGO who’s goal is to improve the sanitation and human waste disposal across India. The NGO has developed a flush toilet which uses little water and where human waste is organically compounded to later be used for fertilizer.
After you have a glass of wine with dinner and hear nature’s call, be thankful for modern plumbing.