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fecal pathogen, groundwater contamination, pit latrine, pit lining, sludge treatment


On-site sanitation systems such as pit latrines are extensively used around the world, while there is a growing number of evidence documenting the impact of pit latrines on groundwater quality that may affect human health. Hence, this paper summarizes the various safe-sanitation technologies by broadly categorizing them into fecal pathogen disinfection methods (anaerobic digestion, chemical disinfection, biological additives, solar pasteurization and vermicomposting) and capturing methods (pit lining and permeable reactive barriers, the latter of which simultaneously capture and sanitize fecal sludge in pit latrines). While some of the reviewed technologies have been widely practiced for mitigating microbial contamination of the groundwater, others are still in the early stage of commercialization and field validation. Though there are challenges to the selection and adoption of the most appropriate technology, this paper discusses the readiness of each technology as a stand-alone fecal sludge management solution.

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Originally published as:

Shray Saxena, Walter Den; In situ treatment technologies for pit latrines to mitigate groundwater contamination by fecal pathogens: a review of recent technical advances. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development 1 January 2022; 12 (1): 102–115. doi:

© 2022 The Authors This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY 4.0), which permits copying, adaptation and redistribution, provided the original work is properly cited (