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From Toilet to Tiller: Humanure
by Staff
In the Western Hemisphere, many people might be considered fecophobes. When they go to the bathroom, they want whatever went into the toilet to be whisked away in a hurry. There are folks, however, with a different take. They believe what goes into the toilet should be turned into what's sometimes referred to as humanure. Find out how much you know about the issue in this quiz.

What percentage of disease outbreaks worldwide are caused by contaminated and polluted water supplies?

  • 20 percent
  • 50 percent
  • 80 percent

Why is fecal matter and human urine considered a health risk?

  • It can harbor dangerous pathogens.
  • It can produce toxic odors.
  • Both

By the end of the 20th century, how many septic systems were in use in the United States?

  • About 5 million
  • About 20 million
  • About 50 million

Why are many septic systems bad for the environment?

  • They pollute aquifers.
  • They pollute the atmosphere.
  • Both

What happens to the majority of the sewer sludge that's collected by wastewater treatment plants?

  • It goes into landfills.
  • It gets burned.
  • It is turned into fertilizer.

Why isn't all this human waste composted and used for agricultural purposes?

  • It's mixed with pollutants from other sources.
  • It's socially taboo to compost human waste.
  • Both

Apart from those toxic additives and negative attitudes, what's another concern to keep in mind when discussing the prospect of composting human fecal matter?

  • The health of the human contributors
  • The time of year the process is set to take place
  • Both

Using a composting toilet, how much finished compost does the average person produce in a year?

  • About 60 pounds
  • About 90 pounds
  • About 120 pounds

Using a composting toilet, how much water does the average person spare from contamination in a year?

  • More than 1,000 gallons
  • More than 3,000 gallons
  • More than 6,000 gallons

How much bacteria can the urine of a healthy person contain?

  • Up to 500 bacteria per milliliter
  • Up to 1,000 bacteria per milliliter
  • Up to 5,000 bacteria per milliliter

How about someone with a urinary tract infection?

  • More than 10,000 bacteria per milliliter
  • More than 50,000 bacteria per milliliter
  • More than 100,000 bacteria per milliliter

What transmission route that pathogens take to get to people could theoretically be eliminated if everyone used a composting toilet?

  • Human to soil to human
  • Human to animal to human
  • Both

What temperature must human compost reach to kill roundworm eggs?

  • 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 degrees Celsius)
  • 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius)
  • 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)

How hot must the temperate of a compost pile be to kill all the pathogens it contains in a month?

  • 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius)
  • 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius)
  • 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius)

How hot must the temperature reach to kill all the pathogens in a single day?

  • 114 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius)
  • 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius)
  • 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius)

How many compost bins are ideal for composting humanure?

  • Two
  • Three
  • Four

Can kitchen scraps be thrown in the humanure compost pile, too?

  • Yes
  • No
  • It depends

What two elements are most important to the composting process?

  • Nitrogen and sodium
  • Sulfur and carbon
  • Carbon and nitrogen

Once a composting toilet is full, which part of the active compost pile should receive the remains?

  • The edges
  • The center
  • The bottom

But … But aren't composting toilets and the resulting compost piles really stinky?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Only if you're doing it wrong