Disease Prevention Through Sanitation and Cleanliness

In medieval times, people would dispose of their trash out the window. This was not a problem until there was an increase of population and decrease of land. The great amount of trash in the streets and land became a problem. For example, in the beginning of the 19th century in London, England, the population doubled from the beginning of the century to the middle. London’s streets became filled with trash. Disease and death were blamed on lack of sanitation and inadequate garbage disposal in the city.

Clean water is a necessity for life. Water treatment plants clean and treat water so that it is safe to drink. Water treatment plants get rid of harmful pollutants and liquid waste and make the water safe to return to the environment. Water enters treatment plants from rivers, reservoirs, wells, and streams. It is treated and returned into the environment. Sewage water runs through sewer pipes into wastewater treatment plants. After it is treated, it is sent out to streams, oceans, rivers and used for irrigation systems. Both wastewater and water treatment plants remove dangerous materials, chemicals, and microorganisms from the water.

When countries do not have waste management programs, it puts individuals at risk for serious risk of contracting diseases. For example, a country that does not have a health care waste program is putting their citizens at risk for contracting blood illnesses. Medical scissors, syringes, and other hospital wastes need to be carefully disposed of after use due to the risks to citizens and the environment. One of the most important problems in developing a sanitation program is money. Some countries do not have the funding to run the sanitation and water plants.

Diarrheal diseases are the most common problem caused by poor sanitation and contaminated water. Long-term health issues caused from contaminated water include skin lesions that can cause skin, bladder, and lung cancer. Millions of people are at risk for developing arsenic poisoning because they depend on water supplies that may be contaminated and do not have a water supply that is safe.

Cholera is a bacterial infection throughout the intestinal tract. It causes diarrhea and if left untreated, can cause severe dehydration and death. Cholera can be stopped by having access to drinking water that is safe. Developing good sanitation and hygiene can also prevent this infection.

Acute respiratory infections can also be caused by poor sanitation. Respiratory infections are one of the biggest causes of death in the world. There are about 4 million cases of death annually reported in the world. Half of these individuals are children. Studies show that better hygiene practice prevents the increased infections. Combining the cases of diarrheal diseases and acute respiratory infections, uncontrolled sanitation and hygiene is the leading cause of death in children.

Food sanitation is important because it prevents contamination of food. By following protocols, the chance of food becoming contaminated becomes less. People who work in the food industry need to understand and follow regulations from public health agencies. Sanitation protocols need to start from the moment the food is harvested to the time it is eaten. It is also important for people who cook at home to understand basic food safety and sanitation.

One mistake in food sanitation could cause thousands of people to become sick. Food borne illness can be caused by poor sanitation. Food processing issues cause sickness all over the world. Recent examples of failed food processing are: peanut butter, spinach, and hamburger meat. Even a bake sale has risk of food contamination.

It is important to remember to wash your hands after using the bathroom, diaper changing, touching animals, and before and after preparing food to prevent the spread of infection from person to person. Wash hands after smoking, working in the garden, or attending to a sick person. Hand washing is most effective when liquid soap is used with warm water. Do not use hot water because it can alter the natural oils in your skin. Bar soap should be avoided, especially in public places.

Bar soap is susceptible to contamination because it normally rests in pools of water that contain many germs. This may cause more germs to develop and be spread from person to person. Bar soap tends to dry out easily and crack. Germs can get inside the crack of the soap. It has been shown that people are less likely to wash their hands if they have to use bar soap. Most places have converted to liquid soap only, especially in the health care field.

Health in the Middle Ages

Vaccination Liberation- Information

Dark Ages to Industrial Age (300CE-early 19th Century

The Evolution of Sewage Treatment

Water and Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators

A Garbage Timeline

Nineteenth-Century British Medicine and Public Health

Common Water and Sanitation-Related Diseases

Health and Sanitation

Apostles of Cleanliness


FSA 106 Food Safety & Sanitation Links

Students Work to Improve Sanitation in Developing Countries

Bacterial Hand Contamination and Transfer after Use of Contaminated Bulk-Soap-Refillable Dispensers

Impact of Ring Wearing on Hand Contamination

Hand Hygiene

Keep Water Clean

How Can I help Improve Water Quality

Emergency Water Purification

Polio and Clean Water

Tsunami-related Diseases

Germs and Diseases Bacteria

Focus on Children’s Health