Finding a New Way To Go

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Science  10 Aug 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6095, pp. 673
DOI: 10.1126/science.337.6095.673

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The flush toilet is undeniably wasteful. It uses drinkable water to carry away urine and feces, creating wastewater that has to be cleaned with expensive and energy-intensive technology. Flush toilets make even less sense in dry regions, and building sewage systems can be prohibitively expensive in the developing world. Even in wealthy regions, some existing systems don't treat waste adequately, discharging pollutants into downstream ecosystems. Prompted by stricter clean water regulations and recognition that sanitation is key to improving public health, research into new ways of collecting and processing human waste is starting to catch on.

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