There is quite a lot of what has been called "fecophobia" in this thread. Most of us have E Coli. on our hands a lot of the time (as tests have proved, showing that you can culture E coli from telephone handsets and all sorts of surfaces).
In most of Asia and Africa, toilets are a hole in the ground over which you squat (a position that is the most efficient for defecation because it removes the "kink" in the colon that you have when sitting). They do not use toilet paper; they use a small container of water to rinse the anus (not sure if women also rinse the vulva). The anus is actually cleaner after this than it would be from wiping with TP. The hand is also rinsed, and washed (sometimes with soap, sometimes without). This has not led to an increase in disease that we know of.
So, no need to sterilize things. I really recommend the book Humanure to you all; in it a lot of this hyperventilating over germs is debunked. There's quite a lot of unnecessary fear around these issues in western societies, mostly caused by the TV advertising we all see for antimicrobial sprays and soaps etc.
My little sister shit a worm. She picked up a very nasty parasite in her own organic garden, highly contagious variety (they were vegetarian at the time, we are too). The docs had to send it off to a specialist, she ended up on more than one round of heavy drugs that left her a mess for well over a year. That's not something I'm about to goof around with. I have no problem with properly composted poop, none-what-so-ever but let's not be foolish here. Parasites are very real and very happy to move around from body to body if you don't pay attention to proper hygiene. Better safe than sorry folks. Plus, hello, STD's etc.
A proper mix of nitrogen and carbon takes the mix to about 150-160 degrees F. You can use a thermometer to make sure it gets there. This essentially pasteurizes the compost.
If you eat meat and it does not get thoroughly cooked enough, you are at risk of getting parasites from it. Furthermore, if you buy compost, you can risk getting some pretty nasty bio-cides, including herbicides that can go through an animal and come out the other end.
I know of an M.D. and his wife who heated their water for themselves and their 3 kids for 15 years, using compost.
You can look him up. Their posting of this is probably still on the net. Search Ole Ersson. Ole is the granddaddy of this sort of thing in Portland. He and his wife, Maitri, are now building up a low-income, rental ecovillage.
They had been homesteading for a while by that time and were certainly properly composting. You just can't control what wanders through an outdoor garden though. I wash all produce carefully and we wash our hands after using the toilet and take pains not to touch our faces with dirty hands. Nothing has ever been so upsetting or scary as that earth worm sized parasite falling out of her bum, let me tell you! She was very sick for a long time afterwards too. I say better safe than sorry. The doctor is not a person I want to visit ever if possible .
i was reading through and thinking about my little girls peeing in the weeds . " I no poop in publick ,i poop in garden" And see the post on parasites, my buddy was raising pigs, chickens and trying to compost . 5 kids in the house, i stoped by ,he starts telling me about his boy who get sick from choclict , brakes out in rassies and fever and wants me to look him over ? redneckwitch dr. that is , if you could have seem his face when i asked if he had any dog wormer. the next day the poor boy passed over a 6 foot tape worm. you can bet they all learned to wash there hands.
Sounds like what my sister had. This is the one. Some believe there is as Ascaris that will infect pigs and humans...
(intestinal roundworms of humans and pigs) Ascaris lumbricoides is one of the largest and most common parasites found in humans. The adult females of this species can measure up to 18 inches long (males are generally shorter), and it is estimated that 25% of the world's population is infected with this nematode. The adult worms live in the small intestine and eggs are passed in the feces. A single female can produce up to 200,000 eggs each day! About two weeks after passage in the feces the eggs contain an infective larval or juvenile stage, and humans are infected when they ingest such infective eggs. The eggs hatch in the small intestine, the juvenile penetrates the small intestine and enters the circulatory system, and eventually the juvenile worm enters the lungs. In the lungs the juvenile worm leaves the circulatory system and enters the air passages of the lungs. The juvenile worm then migrates up the air passages into the pharynx where it is swallowed, and once in the small intestine the juvenile grows into an adult worm. Why Ascaris undergoes such a migration through the body to only end up where it started is unknown. Such a migration is not unique to Ascaris, as its close relatives undergo a similar migration in the bodies of their hosts (view diagram of the life cycle).
Ascaris infections in humans can cause significant pathology. The migration of the larvae through the lungs causes the blood vessels of the lungs to hemorrhage, and there is an inflammatory response accompanied by edema. The resulting accumulation of fluids in the lungs results in "ascaris pneumonia," and this can be fatal. The large size of the adult worms also presents problems, especially if the worms physically block the gastrointestinal tract. Ascaris is notorious for its reputation to migrate within the small intestine, and when a large worm begins to migrate there is not much that can stop it. Instances have been reported in which Ascaris have migrated into and blocked the bile or pancreatic duct or in which the worms have penetrated the small intestine resulting in acute (and fatal) peritonitis. Ascaris seems to be especially sensitive to anesthetics, and numerous cases have been documented where patients in surgical recovery rooms have had worms migrate from the small intestine, through the stomach, and out the patient's nose or mouth.
(I split this thread since it was wandering off topic)
I think poop-a-phobia is something that is a good thing to have. We have add the whole "ewwwwww, poop!" thing trained into us and, I think, for a damn good reason. We need to show poop the resepect it deserves. To do otherwise could be deadly.
Thank you Paul, I whole-heartedly agree. While I am no stranger to poop (my 3 year old had an accident in the bathroom just this morning that she unsuccessfully tried to quietly clean up herself. Say hello to poop smeared floors, feet, hands and bum that ended up in my bed early this morning. AND she sucks her thumb, oh joy!) it's not something I take lightly. The fecal oral route is unfortunately the main mode of travel for many parasites and it's not something to be dealt with carelessly. Squeamishness is an unnecessarily dramatic response to bodily functions of any kind but good hygiene never goes amiss. When a simple 20 second hand wash can prevent the spread of so many germs, etc, why the heck not?
I plan on composting my poop when i am on land. after reading jenkins' book i am pretty much sold that proper composting is a lot safer than septic. we had a septic system in the northeast for like 30 years and it always smelled off, not quite like poop but the smell was not right around the house.
it is a very complex issue, and even in the story about the girl who passed the worm it may not have been that she picked up the worm from your compost. parasite eggs are pretty much omnipresent in our food supply, or even on a speck of dust. the whole notion that you can only pick certain parasites up from foreign travel is way off base. i have had in depth discussions with colon therapists whose job day in day out is looking through a little glass windows at people's old poop. most of them will tell you that it doesn't matter if you are a vegan, most people are infested whether you are aware of it or not. parasites have been with humanity from the beginning and have developed insanely complicated survival strategies. their main job is to remain undetected.
some people may know that up until the turn of the 20th century, deworming was a big part of life and every community had their own methods, be it garlic, wormwood, onions, or whatever the local potion was. much or all of this practice disappeared at the same time as the rise of the AMA. Amish communitues still practice deworming as do many 'uncivilized' cultures throughout the world.
some forward thinking alternative health people have proposed that certain species of parasite serve beneficial purposes by sequestering toxic metals like uranium, copper, lead, mercury, etc.
there was a science article i read two years ago where they did in fact identify a radioactive element eating worm.
i think there are no easy answers and people just have to choose their lifestyle.
a lot of the raw foodists start to pass worms after a certain amount of time going raw. you can say that they picked it up from their raw food or that they were just cleaning out things already inside them which is where i lean.
there is a youtube video of a british woman who does anaerobic composting. basically she just has like 50 plastic buckets to defecate in. when one is filled she lets it sit outside for 2 years and it is fully composted. this way there is no handling of the waste. i would like to verify that this method works.
jenkins is now selling biodegradable plastic liners for the buckets. this is another good way to go and avoids the issue of having to handle the waste and transfer to a bin, you just close the bag, dump in the bin and it's done.
i am in the same boat as paul though, i don't want to be handling my waste once it's in the bucket, and these two ideas are the best i have come up with.
JadeQueen wrote: A proper mix of nitrogen and carbon takes the mix to about 150-160 degrees F. You can use a thermometer to make sure it gets there. This essentially pasteurizes the compost.
When you process food in a pressure canner, it is to get the temperature above the point of boiling because, well, lots of nasty things survive lower temperatures. using poop on something you put in your mouth, no matter how composted it is, just seems like a bad idea. I am going to look at composting poop when I get out of the city because it saves on the plumbing bills, but I plan on using that compost way out there. Maybe to fertilize the hedge or some wildlife food plots (even that I'm leery of, though). Perhaps the Humanure Handbook will change my mind... we'll see.
It's true you have to respect poop, and it's a natural thing for humans, but I doubt it's because of parasites. I think it's more about hiding your presence from predators (the reason why cats hide their poop with soil and female dogs eat their puppies' poop, and sometimes they even keep eating it themselves when they're older).
Also, it's normal to be scared of parasites, but they're not simply a bad thing (sometimes they're really bad news, of course, but they're not pure evil or anything like that). In fact, many autoimmune diseases can be easily cured by infecting with parasites, because the immune system gets some work to do and stops thrashing around. It's designed to be too stong so that it can protect you even if there are parasites inside of you (they sedate it to protect themselves, and they also keep it busy, so it has to be strong to be able to multitask), but if you don't eat natural food with many living things inside (your body is prepared for it), it gets bored and becomes dangerous. Parasites and hosts evolve together, always.
As george101 said, all traditional communities (and all other species) deworm themselves with special foods when they feel they need it (or you can do it routinely if you want and you're not able to detect them).
I'm not saying we should eat poop sandwiches or foliar feed leaf crops with night soil, but it's a very important biomass and nutrients source. Making it go near trees' roots will nurture them safely for you, and biodigestors would be a very efficient way of sterilizing it (if you feel the need to do so) while producing energy and very nutrient-rich liquids and solids you could use in aquaculture and in your fields.
Many fears serve to prevent us from doing something stupid. When it comes to bad odor poop and rotting carrion top the list. Both contain many pathogens which can kill us. One of the most dangerous natural environments a human can enter is a bat cave. The caves contain feces, dead bats, excessive carbon dioxide, and ammonia. Our nose warns us that this is not a fit place to be.
Fear of heights, snakes, predators, spiders, fire, and even the fear of strangers have served as a natural warning for humanity over millennia.
Poopaphobia is enshrined in religion as well. The Jewish and Muslim food laws which prevent adherants from eating pork are quite likely rooted in the fact that wild pigs in the Middle East commonly eat feces of other creatures including humans. The forbearers of these religions would no doubt have found that disgusting.
What if you use the poop to grow, say, bamboo that would be grown specifically for mulch? Would you be at risk of nasties if you use the bamboo mulch grown from composted poop for your vegetable garden?
***I am only just starting to read about what to do with black water so I am fairly ignorant on these things.
No land yet, but growing what I can with what I have!