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Copenhagen, Denmark

A report today from UN University's Canadian-based Institute for Water, Environment and Health estimates that biogas potentially available from human waste worldwide would have a value of up to US$ 9.5 billion in natural gas equivalent. And the residue, dried and charred, could produce 2 million tonnes of charcoal-equivalent fuel, curbing the destruction of trees. Finally, experts say, the large energy value would prove small relative to that of the global health and environmental benefits that would accrue from the safe treatment of human waste in low-resource settings. "Rather than treating our waste as a major liability, with proper controls in place we can use it in several circumstances to build innovative and sustained financing for development while protecting health and improving our environment in the process," according to the report, "Valuing Human Waste as an Energy Resource." The report uses average waste volume statistics, high and low assumptions for the percentage of concentrated combustable solids contained (25 - 45%), its conversion into biogas and charcoal-like fuel and their thermal equivalents (natural gas and charcoal), to calculate the potential energy value of human waste. Biogas, approximately 60% methane by volume, is generated through the bacterial breakdown of faecal matter, and any other organic matter, in an oxygen free (anaerobic) system. Dried and charred faecal sludge, meanwhile, has energy content similar to coal and charcoal. UN figures show that 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities and almost 1 billion people (about 60% of them in India) don't use toilets at all, defecating instead in the open. If the waste of only those practicing open defecation was targeted, the financial value of biogas potentially generated exceeds US$ 200 million per year and could reach as high as $376 million. The energy value would equal that of the fuel needed to generate electricity for 10 million to 18 million local households. Processing the residual faecal sludge, meanwhile, would yield the equivalent of 4.8 million to 8.5 million tonnes of charcoal to help power industrial furnaces, for example. World already reuses the water and nutrients in wastewater Says lead author Corinne Schuster-Wallace: "Increasingly, water-scarce regions are being driven to separate and reuse the water in wastewater, particularly to expand marginal agricultural lands. There is a technological opportunity, particularly in rural growth areas and small towns, to derive energy as well from this resource." UNU-INWEH Senior Research Fellow Chris Metcalfe of Trent University notes that human waste, as with animal waste, is already used to improve food production in many places around the world, governed by guidelines to ensure its safe use. A study in Sweden established that human urine contains over 300 g of phosphorous, 900 g of potassium and 300 g of sulphur per cubic meter. According to the World Health Organization, an individual's body excretes an estimated 4.5 kg of nitrogen and 548 g of phosphorus per year. "We recycle the nutrients in human waste effectively via agriculture in many places, yet the potential energy value of human waste has been given much less attention to date," says Dr. Metcalfe, a report co-author along with UNU consultant Chris Wild. "Challenges are many but clearly there is a compelling, multi-dimensional financial case to be made for deriving energy from waste." Says UNU-INWEH Director Zafar Adeel: "When it comes to creating misery and poverty, human waste mismanagement has few rivals. If we can demonstrate a simple, cost effective new approach in low-resource settings, if we can successfully make a business case and change the economic paradigm of human waste management, we can advance development, protect the environment and help reduce sanitation problems causing one-tenth of all world illnesses." "World Toilet Day, upcoming November 19, offers the opportunity to promote new thinking and to continue puncturing the taboos in many places that inhibit discussion and perpetuate the disgrace and tragedy of inadequate human waste management in many developing world areas. This report contributes to that goal." With initial seed funds from federally-funded Grand Challenges Canada, UNU-INWEH in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, its agencies, and other NGO and academic institutions, established the Waste to Wealth national framework. With a focus on rural growth centers and small towns, as well as high population density institutions such as schools and prisons, the biogas and residual material left from energy conversion is a valuable economic resource to provide a return on investment in bioenergy technologies. The ultimate goal of Waste to Wealth is decentralised (on site) faecal waste management and to help bridge the finance gap for sanitation in Uganda. By identifying value in waste (energy and /or fertilizer), Waste to Wealth provides an incentive to use toilets and a mechanism to finance both upfront capital costs as well as facility operation, maintenance, and expansion. In addition to the economic opportunities, sanitation interventions have known benefits to individual, household and community health and wellbeing. Phase two of the project involves proof of concept of a series of proposed initiatives, including equipping a Ugandan prison with a $100,000 system requiring approximately $5,000 in annual operating costs, expected to pay for itself through fuel cost savings within 2 years. Waste to Wealth is one of several pilot projects in Africa to have received seed grants from Grand Challenges Canada for the systematic collection of waste for processing into a variety of energy or agricultural products. Production of biogas and organic fertilizer from street waste Explore further: Regions could use food waste for fuel

Oron G.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Adel M.,Adel Consulting | Agmon V.,The Ministry of Health | Friedler E.,Technion - Israel Institute of Technology | And 3 more authors.
Water Research | Year: 2014

Water shortage around the world enhanced the search for alternative sources. Greywater (GW) can serve as a solution for water demands especially in arid and semi-arid zones. However, issues considered which include acceptability of GW segregation as a separate water treated stream, allowing its use onsite. Consequently, it is the one of next forthcoming water resources that will be used, primarily in the growing mega-cities. It will be even more rentable when combined with the roof runoff water harvesting and condensing water from air-conditioning systems. Reuse of GW is as well beneficial in the mega-cities subject to the high expenses associated with wastewater and fresh water conveyance in the opposite direction. The main problem associated with GW reuse is the quality of the water and the targeted reuse options. At least two main options can be identified: the public sector that is ready to reuse the GW and the private sector which raises extra issues related to the reuse risks. These risk stems from the on yard use of GW, relatively close to the household location. The main focus of the Israeli guidelines for GW use is on the private and single house. The problem is less rigorous in public facilities, where the amounts are relatively large and the raw GW is relatively diluted. The two main principles adopted for reuse are: (i) greywater can be minimally treated since it differs from the black wastes, and; (ii) no contact exists with the resident around. The aggravated standards are an indication of the sensitivity issues related to the problem. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Jans G.,Unit Pregnancy | Guelinckx I.,Environment and Health | Voets W.,Jessa Hospital | Galjaard S.,Unit Pregnancy | And 5 more authors.
Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases | Year: 2014

Background: Neonatal intracranial bleedings and birth defects have been reported, possibly related to maternal vitamin K1 deficiency during pregnancy after bariatric surgery. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of screening and supplementation on K1 serum levels in pregnant women with bariatric surgery, and to compare K1 levels and prothrombin time (PT %) in the first trimester with pregnant women without bariatric surgery. Methods: A prospective cohort study including 49 pregnant women with bariatric surgery. Nutritional deficiencies were prospectively screened. In case of observed low K1 serum levels, supplementation was provided. K1 serum levels and PT (%) during the first trimester were compared with a nonsurgical control group of 27 women. Results: During the first trimester, most women had low K1 serum levels (< 0.8 nmol/l). Mean vitamin K1 levels were significantly lower in the surgical group compared to the nonsurgical control group (.44 versus .64 nmol/l; P = .016). PT (%) remained in the normal range, The surgery group showed a higher mean PT compared to the controls (111.3 versus 98.9%; P < .001) Mean K1 serum levels in the study group were higher during the third than during the first trimester (P = .014). PT (%) was significantly higher during the second and third than during the first trimester (P = .004). Most of the coagulation factors, including II, V, VII, IX, and X, remained within normal ranges. Conclusion: Low circulating K1 appears to be common in pregnant women with and without bariatric surgery. Supplementation during pregnancy can restore vitamin K1 in women with bariatric surgery, potentially protecting the fetus and newborn against intracranial hemorrhage. © 2014 American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. All rights reserved.

Kahlmeier S.,University of Zurich | Wijnhoven T.M.A.,World Health Organization | Alpiger P.,University of Zurich | Schweizer C.,Environment and Health | And 2 more authors.
BMC Public Health | Year: 2015

Background: Developing national physical activity (PA) recommendations is an essential element of an effective national approach to promote PA. Methods: Systematic overview and analysis of national PA recommendations across the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO European national information focal points provided information which was complemented through online searches and input from other experts. Results: Information received until summer 2012 from 37 countries was analyzed. Sixteen countries did not have national recommendations while 21 countries did. For 17 countries, the source document was accessible. Seventeen recommendations referred to adults, 14 to young people and 6 to older adults. Most national recommendations for children and young people are quite similar: 12 countries recommend at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity PA each day, in line with the WHO global recommendation. Three countries recommend longer durations and one a lower one. In some countries, slight variations were found regarding the recommended intensity and minimum bouts. Only one country was fully in line with the WHO recommendations. Two countries have issued separate recommendations for pre-school children. For adults, most countries still follow the 1995 United States recommendations of "at least 30 minutes on 5 days a week". Three countries were fully in line with the WHO recommendations. Four countries give specific recommendations on reducing weight, avoiding weight gain or continuing weight maintenance. The six identified national PA recommendations for older adults are mainly similar to those for adults but underline that particularly for this age group also less activity has important health benefits; four countries also recommend balance training. Conclusions: About half of the countries for which information was available and likely less than 40% of all 53 countries in the WHO European Region have developed national PA recommendations. Further investment is needed to address this important step towards a comprehensive PA promotion approach. Much remains to be done for the 2010 WHO recommendations to be fully reflected in national documents across all parts of the Region and all age groups. In addition, avoiding extended periods of inactivity and overweight are only addressed by a minority of countries yet. © 2015 World Health Organization; licensee BioMed Central.

Keune H.,University of Antwerp | Morrens B.,University of Antwerp | Croes K.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Colles A.,Flemish Institute for Technological Research | And 9 more authors.
Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source | Year: 2010

Background. In order to select priority hotspots for environment and health research in Flanders (Belgium), an open procedure was organized. Environment and health hotspots are strong polluting point sources with possible health effects for residents living in the vicinity of the hot spot. The selection procedure was part of the work of the Flemish Centre of Expertise for Environment and Health, which investigates the relation between environmental pollution and human health. The project is funded and steered by the Flemish government. Methods. The involvement of other actors than merely experts is inspired by the 'analytical-deliberative' approach of the National Research Council in the United States and the extended peer community approach. These approaches stress the importance of involving different expert- and social perspectives in order to increase the knowledge base on complex issues. In the procedure used in the project a combination of expert and stakeholder input was essential. The final decision was supported by a multi-criteria analysis of expert assessment and stakeholder advice. Results. The endeavour was challenging from the start because of the complicated ambition of including a diversity of actors, potential hotspots, concerns and assessment criteria, but nevertheless the procedure proved its value in both structuring and informing the decision-making process. Moreover the process gained the support of most actors participating in the process, even though the final selection could not satisfy all preferences. Conclusions. Opening the research agenda exemplifies the value of inter- and transdisciplinary cooperation as well as the need for a well-structured and negotiated procedure that combines relevant factors and actors with pragmatism. The value of such a process also needs to prove itself in practice after the procedure has been completed: the tension between an ambition of openness on the one hand and a more closed attitude amongst experts on the other will continue to play a role even after closure. © 2010 Keune et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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