Sanitation in the time of cholera

Even though a few parts of India are still rainfall deficient, the monsoon in India this year is definitely among the heaviest in recent memory. We’ve all seen the images of crocodiles on rooftops and streets in Karnataka and Gujarat and the devastation wrought by floods across Kerala and Maharashtra. Largely though, this rain surplus is good news, especially for Indian cities that are facing the dire prospect of going dry soon. However, we still need to ensure that our cities are able to store and conserve groundwater and that we protect wetlands and manage our water reservoirs better so that the bounteous rains can actually ensure steady water for our growing population.

Along with the good cheer that the rains bring there are many illnesses they also bring along. More than just minor viral infections and the omnipresent flu. Poor sanitation infrastructure, combined with open drains and gutters, often means that rain water leads to a lot of water logging, providing ample space for mosquitoes to breed, and making malaria and dengue unwelcome monsoon guests. Contaminated water (and contaminated food) are also directly responsible for Hepatitis A outbreaks during the rains. Because rains in urban India often mean fecal waste overflowing into the streets, they also create an environment that allows the Salmonella bacteria to prosper and spread, leading to increased instances of typhoid. Contaminated water is also responsible for most of the food poisoning that occurs during rains because disease-causing bacteria find a fertile environment to thrive in.

One of the deadliest illnesses that rears its heads very frequently during the rains though is cholera. An intestinal infection caused by, yes, bacteria, cholera causes severe diarrhea and vomiting, often leading to death within hours unless treated immediately. Cholera affects millions of people every year and while treatment is easy, it needs to begin immediately. Increasingly though, cholera is also showing signs of becoming antibiotic resistant. As the old adage goes, prevention is definitely better than cure.

Washing hands often and thoroughly and making sure your drinking and cooking and cleaning water is always clean are important steps in preventing cholera. Equally important is the other point of this triangle: sanitation. Not only do we need to ensure everyone has access to hygienic sanitation, we also need to ensure our sanitation infrastructure doesn’t contaminate water any further.

We’ve previously written about our overloaded under-performing sanitation infrastructure and how it invariably leads to urban streets across India being flooded with sewage and garbage, resulting in us having to wade through ankle-deep and knee-deep and waist-deep and chest-deep waters in our daily commute. These waters that we bravely wade through are rife with all manners of bacteria and viruses and other pathogens. And no matter how well we wash our hands and how clean and filtered our drinking water is, a 5 minute sojourn through this contaminated water is all it takes to contact cholera. And unless you can access treatment immediately, these 5 minutes can prove fatal.

All the blame for these flooded streets cannot be laid at the feet of our sanitation framework though. Nor can we blame heavy rainfalls. A large part of the reason for this lies with us. Under us, to be more precise. Our septic tanks, to be entirely specific.

In homes and housing complexes and business parks and hotels and pretty much anywhere that has a toilet, it is the unheralded, unloved, ignored, humble septic tank that is expected to do the job of making sure the many tonnes of poop and waste that come flowing down toilets and drains and kitchen sinks are fully degraded and that the waste doesn’t build up causing odors everywhere. More importantly, without any love or attention, the septic tank is expected to ensure fecal waste is fully degraded without any sludge build-up and that no toxins leach out into the soil or, worse, into groundwater. And to make things worse for septic tanks, we often also flush down stuff into them that should never be in septic tanks. Like chemicals from our cleaning products. And oils and grease from our kitchen prep and food waste. And then, when the septic tank is unable to keep up and gets blocked or starts giving out foul odors, we dump more chemicals into them to get them clean.

Obviously, this step sisterly treatment we mete out to our septic tanks isn’t working. Eventually, septic tanks are unable to do their job of degrading shit properly and that is when untreated or partially treated waste starts to leach into the environment. This fecal waste is rife with toxic bacteria and other pathogens which then reach our groundwater supplies, contaminating those. And every year, when it rains, these pathogens mix with other waste and flood out onto our streets, looking to happily infect every living soul it can reach. And in our cities, there are a lot of souls these pathogens can infect.

Thankfully, there is a solution. It involves loving your septic tank just a little bit more. And knowing everything there is to know about them. And it involves Bioclean Septic, our technologically advanced natural solution to treat septic tanks to ensure they are always performing at optimum levels.

Bioclean Septic is a microbial product with bacteria that are capable of completely degrading fecal matter. The microbes in Bioclean Septic break down existing sludge and reduce sludge build up too. And even if you’ve been adding chemicals to your septic tank, Bioclean Septic will still treat it. Most importantly, Bioclean Septic ensures that disease causing germs can’t thrive in your septic tank nor can they escape from the septic tank. Order a pack today and start treating your septic tanks with the love they deserve. Because your septic tank might be all that stands between you and cholera during the next thunderstorm.

Post by Ankita Goyal

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