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Toilet Roundup

December 15, 2006

The United Nations wants the world to engage in some serious toilet talk. Here’s why.


A deadly shortage of toilets. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Well, you may have missed it, but November 19th was World Toilet Day. No there were no parades, fireworks, or even greeting cards—in fact, the day is actually a solemn event. It’s meant to draw attention to the fact that 2. 6 billion people lack basic sanitation, and nearly 2 million children die every year from diseasses that could be prevented simply by having a toilet. It would cost only about $10 billion to save most of these lives.

In other—believe it or not—toilet news, archaeologists have found what they believe is the ancient latrine of the Essenes, the extreme Jewish religious sect thought to have written the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s a quarter-mile northwest of the ancient city of Qumran—a distance specified in the Old Testament and the scrolls themselves.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.