S.11 Chemical Toilet

The Chemical Toilet, commonly referred to as a ‘portaloo’, can be used as an immediate solution in the acute response phase of an emergency. Chemical toilets are generally contained in a single prefabricated plastic portable unit, or cubicle, that collects human excreta in a sealed holding tank which contains chemicals that disinfects excreta and/or decreases odours.Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

The Chemical Toilet is designed as a complete prefabricated cubicle unit above a holding tank, commonly with 200 L capacity, where a chemical solution is added. A small amount of water and chemicals are mixed to make the flush water. The holding tank collects the excreta, flush water and anal cleansing material. The chemical additives in both the flush water and holding tank reduce odours and partially disinfect excreta.

Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.Water discharged into the user interface to clean it and transport the contents into the conveying system or to the on-site storage. Freshwater, rainwater, recycled greywater, or any combination of the three can be used as a flushwater source. Many sanitation systems do not require flushwater.Total volume of water generated from washing food, clothes and dishware, as well as from bathing, but not from toilets (see blackwater). It may also contain traces of excreta (e.g. from washing diapers) and, therefore, some pathogens. Greywater accounts for approximately 65 % of the wastewater produced in households with flush toilets.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Describes the type of toilet, pedestal, pan, or urinal that the user comes into contact with; it is the way users access the sanitation system. In many cases, the choice of user interface will depend on the availability of water and user preferences. Additionally, handwashing facilities have been included here with a dedicated technology information sheet as a constant reminder that each sanitation user interface needs to be equipped with handwashing facilities for optimal hygiene outcomes.A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Design Considerations

One toilet can serve up to 75–100 persons per desludging interval. Standard cubical size is usually about 110 cm square by 210 cm, large enough for one person, and have washable floors, ventilation screens and ventilation pipes. Modifications to the standard design are available on the market with a variety of different user interfaces such as urinals, squatting pans, pedestal toilets and with wheelchair access and handwashing stations in the cubical. Larger holding tanks (< 200 L) and winterised models with anti-freeze are also available. Toilets must be located in areas that can be accessed by desludging vehicles and motorised emptying vehicles C.2 . The final disposal of sludge is a critical issue and a safe option should be identified before considering Chemical Toilets.

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes the type of toilet, pedestal, pan, or urinal that the user comes into contact with; it is the way users access the sanitation system. In many cases, the choice of user interface will depend on the availability of water and user preferences. Additionally, handwashing facilities have been included here with a dedicated technology information sheet as a constant reminder that each sanitation user interface needs to be equipped with handwashing facilities for optimal hygiene outcomes.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The process of removing the accumulated sludge from a storage or treatment facility.
The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
User interface used for urination and defecation. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Materials

The Chemical Toilet comes as complete prefabricated plastic unit either available in-country from existing suppliers or can be flown in. The chemical solution commonly used is glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde or caustic soda (sodium hydroxide). More environmentally friendly enzyme mixes have also been developed. Dry anal cleansing materials and cleaning equipment are required as well as desludging trucks for emptying.

The process of removing the accumulated sludge from a storage or treatment facility.

Applicability

Chemical Toilets are appropriate for the acute response phase of an emergency and are particularly suitable for flood prone affected areas, where pit digging is difficult, within urban areas and where low water and non-permanent solutions are required. As excreta is well contained and well isolated with minimal risk of contamination, it is a good solution where there is a risk of cholera. They are shared facilities and never used as household toilets.

Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18

Operation and Maintenance

Chemical Toilets come with a basic pump flush that operates using the hand or foot or as dry systems without flush. If 75–100 people are using one toilet per day then they should be emptied daily Using a Motorised Emptying and Transport C.2 . The toilets require regular cleaning and checking of water for handwashing and anal cleansing, hygiene items, soap and dry cleansing materials. Where there is a high number of users it is advised to have an attendant to guarantee maintenance and cleaning. It is recommended to have one attendant for every 10 cubicles. Community members can be paid for this job to share the benefits. Some chemicals in the sludge can harm the biological activity in certain treatment facilities such as An aerobic Baffled Reactors S.14 or Biogas Reactors S.16 .

Describes biological processes that occur in the presence of oxygen.
Describes biological processes that
occur in the absence of oxygen.
Common name for the mixture of gases released from the anaerobic digestion of organic material. Biogas comprises methane (50 to 75 %), carbon dioxide (25 to 50 %) and varying quantities of nitrogen, hydrogen sulphide, water vapour and other components, depending on the material being digested. Biogas can be collected and burned for fuel (like propane).Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A colourless, odourless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon with the chemical formula CH4. Methane is present in natural gas and is the main component (50–75%) of biogas that is formed by the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
User interface used for urination and defecation. Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Health and Safety

If removal of sludge is delayed or not carried out, the Chemical Toilet can very quickly become a serious health risk. Handwashing Facilities U.7 should be available and always stocked with soap and water or hand sanitiser. Cubicles need to be situated on flat ground and also anchored to avoid unwanted displacements. Smokingshould be prohibited within the cubicles as they are flammable.

Mixture of solids and liquids, containing mostly excreta and water, in combination with sand, grit, metals, trash and/or various chemical compounds. A distinction can be made between faecal sludge and wastewater sludge. Faecal sludge comes from on-site sanitation technologies, i.e. it has not been transported through a sewer. It can be raw or partially digested, a slurry or semisolid, and results from the collection and storage/treatment of excreta or blackwater, with or without greywater. Wastewater sludge (also referred to as sewage sludge) originates from sewer-based wastewater collection and (semi-)centralised treatment processes. The sludge composition will determine the type of treatment that is required and the end-use possibilities.Describes technologies for on-site collection, storage, and sometimes (pre-) treatment of the products generated at the user interface. The treatment provided by these technologies is often a function of storage and is usually passive (i.e. requires no energy input), except a few emerging technologies where additives are needed. Thus, products that are ‘treated’ by these technologies often require subsequent treatment before use and/or disposal. In the technology overview graphic, this functional group is subdivided into the two subgroups: “Collection/Storage” and “(Pre-)Treatment”. This allows a further classification for each of the listed technologies with regard to their function: collection and storage, (pre-) treatment only or both.Refers to the methods through which products are returned to the environment, either as useful resources or reduced-risk materials. Some products can also be cycled back into a system (e.g. by using treated greywater for flushing).A functional group is a grouping of technologies that have similar functions. The compendium proposes five different functional groups from which technologies can be chosen to build a sanitation system:
User interface (U), Collection and Storage/Treatment (S), Conveyance (C), (Semi-) Centralised Treatment (T), Use and/or Disposal (U).
A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. The utilisation of products derived from a sanitation system.
A sanitation system in which excreta and wastewater are collected and stored or treated on the plot where they are generated.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

Waste matter that is transported through the sewer.
An open channel or closed pipe used to convey sewage. See C.3 and C.4
Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Costs

The medium capital costs and high operating costs make Chemical Toilets unsustainable for use beyond the acute response phase. Overall costs will depend on the number of toilets, whether they are being purchased or rented and the duration of the contract.

Funds spent for the acquisition of a fixed asset, such as sanitation infrastructure.
The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

User interface used for urination and defecation.

Social Considerations

The community should be involved from the outset of the implementation process and beneficiaries should be informed of how long the toilets will be available for, and the staging/phasing of excreta disposal provision in the community. In general, the toilets offer a comfortable and safe sanitation facility and are often well accepted. Proper siting of the toilets is important, otherwise strong odours during emptying might negatively affect acceptance of the toilets. Also consider the prevailing wind direction. Other problems can relate to the concept of communal toilet use. Families may not want to share with other cultural groups and may want their own personal toilet. Additionally, it is important to match the user interface that the target group is used to using, e.g. squatting vs. pedestals. Where Muslims are part of the target community, care should be taken regarding the direction the toilets are facing.

Consists of urine and faeces that are not mixed with any flushwater. Excreta is relatively small in volume, but concentrated in both nutrients and pathogens. Depending on the characteristics of the faeces and the urine content, it can have a soft or runny consistency.Refers to (semi-solid) excrement that is not mixed with urine or water. Depending on diet, each person produces approximately 50–150 L per year of faecal matter of which about 80 % is water and the remaining solid fraction is mostly composed of organic material. Of the total essential plant nutrients excreted by the human body, faeces contain around 39 % of the phosphorus (P), 26 % of the potassium (K) and 12 % of the nitrogen (N). Faeces also contain the vast majority of the pathogens excreted by the body, as well as energy and carbon rich, fibrous material.The liquid produced by the body to rid itself of nitrogen in the form of urea and other waste products. In this context, the urine product refers to pure urine that is not mixed with faeces or water. Depending on diet, human urine collected from one person during one year (approx. 300 to 550 L) contains 2 to 4 kg of nitrogen. The urine of healthy individuals is sterile when it leaves the body but is often immediately contaminated by coming into contact with faeces.Describes the type of toilet, pedestal, pan, or urinal that the user comes into contact with; it is the way users access the sanitation system. In many cases, the choice of user interface will depend on the availability of water and user preferences. Additionally, handwashing facilities have been included here with a dedicated technology information sheet as a constant reminder that each sanitation user interface needs to be equipped with handwashing facilities for optimal hygiene outcomes.A sanitation system is a multi-step process in which sanitation products such as human excreta and wastewater are managed from the point of generation to the point of use or ultimate disposal. It is a context-specific series of technologies and services for the management of these sanitation products, i.e. for their collection, containment, transport, treatment, transformation, use or disposal. A sanitation system comprises functional groups of technologies that can be selected according to context. By selecting technologies from each applicable functional group, considering the incoming and outgoing products, and the suitability of the technologies in a particular context, a logical, modular sanitation system can be designed. A sanitation system also includes the management and operation and maintenance (O & M) required to ensure that the system functions safely and sustainably. Any substance that is used for growth. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) are the main nutrients contained in agricultural fertilisers. N and P are also primarily responsible for the eutrophication of water bodies.
An organism or other agent that causes disease.The means of safely collecting and hygienically disposing of excreta and liquid
wastes for the protection of public health and the preservation of the quality of public water bodies and, more generally, of the environment.

User interface used for urination and defecation. The organic molecule (NH2)2CO that is excreted in urine and that contains the nutrient nitrogen. Over time, urea breaks down into carbon dioxide and ammonium, which is readily used by organisms in soil. It can also be used for on-site faecal sludge treatment. See. S.18Used water from any combination of domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural activities, surface runoff/stormwater, and any sewer inflow/infiltration.

Fact Sheet Overview

Input Products

Excreta
Faeces
Urine
Chemicals

Output Products

Sludge

Emergency Phase

Acute Response + +

Challenging Ground Conditions

Suitable

Application Level / Scale

Neighbourhood + +

Water-based and Dry Technologies

Dry

Management Level

Public + +

Technical Complexity

Space Required

Objectives & Key Features

• Excreta containment
• Fast implementation

Strength & Weakness

  • Can be mobilised rapidly
  • Good in terms of acceptance, dignity and containment of excreta
  • Can be moved easily if needed
  • Can be used in areas where digging is impossible, or in urban areas
  • Expensive (particularly O & M)
  • Requires daily servicing
  • Impossible if there is no secured place to dump the sludge nearby
  • Relatively uncommon outside Europe, North America and some parts of Latin America

Selected References

Guidance for choosing portable or chemical toilets in emergency situation

Harvey, P. A. (2007): Excreta Disposal in Emergencies. WEDC, Loughborough University, UK

Experiences and lessons learnt from implanting portable toilets in the emergency context

Eyrard, J. (2011): Is the “Portaloo” solution replicable? – Emergency WASH response after earthquake in Port au Prince, Haiti 2010 ACF, France

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